British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is facing a major problem as his Conservative Party prepares for an election year in 2024. Polls show that the ruling Conservative Party has been consistently trailing behind the opposition Labor Party. After being in power for 13 years, the Conservative Party is being perceived as tired and out of ideas. Consequently, Sunak is focusing on reducing net immigration to the United Kingdom as a key priority. One of the primary drivers of high immigration numbers is the significant influx of people crossing the English Channel in boats, largely run by smuggling gangs who are aiding migrants to enter the UK illegally.
Sunak has inherited a controversial plan to send refugees to Rwanda instead of keeping them in the UK. However, human rights concerns and legal roadblocks have prevented this plan from being implemented. Consequently, Sunak introduced a bill aimed at blocking any legal reasons for not sending people to Rwanda, but his immigration minister resigned, and his government is expected to lose a vote on the bill in Parliament.
The issue of immigration has provided political opportunities, and prominent Brexit supporter Nigel Farage has been using his platform to pressure the Conservative Party to adopt tougher policies on immigration. Some believe that the UK should leave the European Convention on Human Rights, gaining support from voters tempted to vote for smaller right-wing parties.
Sunak’s attempts to shift the focus to immigration have attracted criticism from the left, highlighting the risks of appearing callous and abandoning people fleeing war zones. However, with shifting British attitudes toward immigration, Sunak’s strategy may not generate the expected traction among the electorate.
As Sunak seeks to find pressure points ahead of the next election, it is evident that he may have chosen a battle that cannot be easily won. The rigid demands set by some members of his party and the changing public perception on immigration present significant challenges for the Prime Minister as he prepares for the upcoming election.