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Help people to thrive in their own country to stop migration crisis – Cleverly

Home Secretary James Cleverly is on a two-day visit to the US (Jonathan Brady/PA)
Home Secretary James Cleverly is on a two-day visit to the US (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Western powers must help would-be migrants to “stay and thrive at home” in order to stem the international migration crisis, the Home Secretary is set to argue.

In a major speech in New York on Tuesday, James Cleverly will say that “doing the right thing” by migrants “doesn’t necessarily mean relocating them to our country”.

The British Cabinet minister will use his speech, coming at the end of his two-day trip to the United States, to call for a “big, open, global conversation about what more we need to do together” to tackle migration.

Speaking at the Carnegie Council for Ethics on International Affairs, Mr Cleverly plans to stress the need to reverse the “talent drain” of migrants leaving their home nations.

According to briefed extracts of his speech, the Home Secretary will say: “While remaining welcoming and generous, we must also urgently consider the impact that this level of migration has not just on those countries where migrants seek to settle, or through which they transit, but also on the countries they leave behind, and indeed on the migrants themselves.

“We need to do more, together.

“A talent drain can have a devastating effect, causing a flight of capital, huge gaps in the workforce and security issues.

“It can be extremely expensive for countries to train professionals who then take their skills elsewhere.

“Furthermore, citizens will suffer if their country fails to invest in skills and training and then plugs those gaps with immigration … doing the right thing by someone in need doesn’t necessarily mean relocating them to our own country.

Rishi Sunak
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has committed to stopping the small boat Channel crossings (Yui Mok/PA)

“Central to solving the international migration challenge is doing more, collectively, to help people to stay and thrive at home.”

The Home Secretary’s comments come as a huge debate rages in the Conservative Party about the best way of tackling both legal net migration — which saw a record high of 745,000 incomers in 2022 on the Tories’ watch — and authorised migration.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has made stopping boats of migrants coming to the UK one of his top priorities ahead of a general election expected later this year.

Mr Cleverly will declare to his international audience that the UK’s Rwanda policy, which will see migrants arriving into Britain after crossing the Channel in a small boat deported to the east African country, is an “innovative way of dealing with illegal migration”.

That is despite not a single asylum seeker being removed by the scheme, which was first announced almost two years ago.

This week, Home Office figures showed that more than 2,000 migrants have arrived in the UK so far this year after crossing the strait between England and France.

The number of Channel arrivals is 32% lower than the total recorded this time last year (2,953) but 49% higher than the total at this stage in 2022 (1,482).

Cumulative arrivals of people crossing the English Channel in small boats
(PA Graphics)

Some 29,437 migrants arrived in the UK after making the crossing in 2023, down 36% on a record 45,774 arrivals in 2022.

During his speech, officials said the Home Secretary planned to challenge the international community to take collective action on tackling global mass migration.

He will urge for more to be done by global leaders on tackling people-smuggling gangs, addressing “all the drivers of forced displacement” and helping people to “thrive in their own countries”.

Tackling unauthorised migration “upstream”, encouraging developed countries to invest in overseas development and increasing international trade will also be among his suggestions for tackling the crisis.

Stephen Kinnock, Labour’s shadow immigration minister, said: “The Home Secretary’s ‘migration vision’ appears to amount to a summary of Labour’s existing arguments — but without any of the policy to back it up.

“In the meantime, he is at pains to refer to the failing Rwanda scheme as sparingly as possible — not a surprise, given the £400 million sums involved to transfer just 1% of those applying for asylum in the UK each year.

“The Home Secretary knows the plan is a gimmick.

“He should abandon the charade, and copy the rest of Labour’s plans too — for a new returns unit to fast-track removal of those with no right to stay, a new police cell to crack down on the smugglers, and swift action to clear the backlog and end hotel use.”

James Cleverly
Home Secretary James Cleverly, pictured with Clint Smith, chief legal officer of the social media platform Discord, met tech giant representatives in San Francisco during his US trip (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Enver Solomon, chief executive of the Refugee Council, said a “glaring omission” from the preview of the Home Secretary’s speech was any focus on the right to claim asylum, something he said was “being fundamentally eroded by the Government’s unlawful Rwanda plan”.

“It is vital that we as a country continue to stand firm in our commitment to provide a fair hearing on UK soil to those fleeing war, torture and persecution,” Mr Solomon said.

“It is vital to ensure that the responsibility for receiving refugees should be fairly shared between nations.

“Most refugees move from one poor country to another poor country. The richest countries in the world must not shirk their responsibilities.”

Mr Cleverly has also visited San Francisco on America’s west coast during his trip.

He met representatives from leading tech companies including Apple, Google, Meta — the owner of Facebook — and YouTube to discuss how to address threats from emerging technologies to public safety and global democracy, the Home Office said.

On Monday evening, the senior Tory was due to take part in a cross-sector event with Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn, to discuss how tech firms and governments can join forces to better protect users and prevent the exploitation of children on their platforms.