Setback for Sunak as UK-Turkey Migrant Deal Falters

London, UK – February 3, 2024

UK-Turkey Migrant Deal Falters

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s plan to send migrants back to Türkiye has hit a roadblock following a Home Office report raising alarms about human rights and security in the country. Türkiye has seen a significant increase in its nationals arriving in the UK via small boats, comprising 10% of 2023’s arrivals, up from 2% in 2022. 

The Home Office report deems Türkiye unsafe, citing worries about the use of anti-terrorism laws and the independence of Turkish courts. The setback complicates Sunak’s “stopping the boats” campaign promise ahead of the upcoming general election.

Some members of the ruling Conservative party, including former Home Secretary SuellaBraverman, have expressed misgivings about the report, stressing Türkiye’s position as a NATO ally and a candidate for EU accession. 

The UK government highlights low approval rates for Turkish citizens seeking asylum but faces challenges in effectively returning them, with many opting to stay illegally after failed claims. This setback follows the UK’s successful arrangement with Albania in 2022, which led to a 93% drop in Albanian asylum claims.

As the proposed UK-Turkey migrant deal faces uncertainty, the incident adds complexity to the broader discussions on immigration policies and international partnerships. 

The report’s findings may impact the upcoming general election, with “stopping the boats” being a significant pledge by Prime Minister Sunak. The government now faces the challenge of navigating these concerns while addressing the pressing issue of increasing migrant arrivals, particularly via small boats.

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