Rishi Sunak’s plan to blanket the airwaves with coverage of government attempts to prevent people crossing the channel was “not a good idea”, a senior Tory has said, given what happened last week.
The prime minister has made “stop the boats” one of his top five pledges to voters ahead of the election.
Before heading to California on holiday, the prime minister lined up major announcements to demonstrate how his government was achieving this target.
But six people died attempting to cross from France to the UK on Saturday when their boat sank, 59 people were rescued.
On Thursday 755 people made the journey across the channel to the south coast of England – a record number for one day.
And on Friday, all 39 people being housed on the Bibby Stockholm barge in Dorset were removed after the Legionella bacteria was discovered on-board.
Speaking to Times Radio on Sunday, former Tory minister Tim Loughton said Sunak had made a mistake focusing on the issue.
“It’s a miracle that there have not been more tragedies like this in the channel,” he said.
“If one compared to what happens in the Mediterranean, where hundreds, if not thousands of lives are being lost by these completely unsuitable and unstable craft coming across, then it could have been a lot worse
“But we don’t need, we don’t want, we shouldn’t have to have any more tragedies like this, which is why it’s so important that this whole vile trade at the hands of people smugglers in the channel is brought to an end.”
Loughton, who recently served as acting chair of the Commons home affairs committee, added: “I think it was probably not a good idea to have a small boat week. It was hostage to fortune.”
David TC Davies, the Welsh secretary, defended the government’s migrant policy.
He told the same programme this morning: “The government has been stopping boats.”
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