‘40% off ’ festive deals to migrants as gangs try to exploit chaos of Rwanda scheme
By Anna Mikhailova and Abul Taher
CRIMINAL gangs are offering ‘festive season discounts’ to illegal migrants trying to sneak into Britain, making a mockery of Ministers’ attempts to crack down on the trade.
A Mail on Sunday investigation can reveal that people-smugglers are using social media adverts to promote cut-price deals, with one charging £5,000 per person over Christmas – a 37.5 per cent discount on the usual £8,000.
It comes as MPs and campaigners have warned that the gangs will use the Tory Party civil war over immigration as part of their marketing campaigns.
One Albanian advert on TikTok, featuring a photograph of the Christmas tree in Covent Garden in Central London, promises asylum seekers trying to cross to the UK a ‘100 per cent success’ rate. A separate Instagram ad for space on a lorry offers a ‘sale price’ for a December 20 trip: ‘One person £6,000. If you are two people – £5,000 each.’
A senior Tory MP and former Cabinet Minister said that the gangs will ‘absolutely exploit the chaos in Government in their marketing campaigns – they see that nothing is working’.
Gangs are now increasingly focusing their advertising on offers to take migrants to Britain on lorries, while one advert offers a deal to smuggle them in by plane for £14,000 per person.
Arrivals from Albania by boat have plummeted since the Government designated it a ‘safe country’, which means its citizens cannot apply for asylum in the UK and are returned there within days. But MPs last night warned the Home Office has taken its eye off the ball over illegal lorry crossings.
This week Rishi Sunak faces the first parliamentary hurdle for his emergency Bill to rescue the Rwanda scheme, which was dealt a blow last week as the Minister in charge of it, Robert Jenrick, resigned, saying it will not work.
Mr Sunak said he will ‘push on with our plan to stop the boats’ and that his is the only plan to end the ‘evil trade of the smuggling gangs’ while Labour has ‘no plans to tackle illegal immigration’. MPs on the right of the Tory Party are waiting for the ‘star chamber’, led by Sir Bill Cash, to give their imminent verdict on Mr Sunak’s plans.
But many are already concerned the Bill will not avoid getting mired in legal challenges, amid reports the Government’s own legal advice said the scheme has a ‘50 per cent at best’ chance of getting flights off the ground next year.
Yesterday former Home Secretary Suella Braverman praised Mr Jenrick, saying: ‘He knows the detail. It is very concerning that he can’t defend the Bill.’
Allies of Mr Sunak have been assuring MPs that any ‘interim injunction’ by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) can be effectively ignored by Ministers. One senior Tory MP said rebel MPs will use the Rwanda legislation as a ‘Trojan horse’ to force the question of leaving the ECHR.
Latest Home Office data shows that almost 30,000 migrants have arrived in Britain on small boats in 2023, second only to last year which had a record 45,774 crossings.
Alp Mehmet, the head of Migration Watch, said: ‘The criminal gangs are only too ready to exploit the shameful chaos on immigration inside Government to get their foot soldiers here as well as bogus asylum seekers.’
Former Tory Party leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith last night urged Ministers to do more to shut down the use of TikTok by criminals.
The Home Office said: ‘We are relentless in our pursuit of criminal gangs illegally smuggling people into the UK, with Border Force carrying out extensive searches of lorries, trailers and containers entering the country.’
Last night, Meta, which owns Instagram, said it had closed down the people-smuggling accounts the MoS has uncovered.
A spokesman added: ‘People smuggling is illegal and where we find content co-ordinating this activity we remove it from our platforms.’
Instagram advert offers a ‘sale price’ for a December 20 trip
dmg media (UK)