A Tory MP has said he is putting Rishi Sunak “on notice” after accusing his own party of failing to get a grip on illegal migration.
Lee Anderson, a former Labour councillor who defected to the Conservatives before getting elected in Ashfield in 2019, used a piece in the Mail on Sunday to warn his party leadership that it was “losing control” on illegal immigration and was “making a mockery of Brexit”.
It comes as the paper reports that the Prime Minister will use a major speech in January to offer voters a clearer vision of the future that includes tougher migration policies and support for families amid the cost-of-living crisis.
Mr Anderson, part of the crop of so-called “red wall” MPs who took Tory seats in former Labour heartlands across the north of England and elsewhere, was a Boris Johnson loyalist who only withdraw his support amid the outcry over the Chris Pincher affair controversy.
He has repeatedly demanded tough action from new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, as well as Home Secretary Suella Braverman, in tackling cross-Channel migrants.
In the piece he writes: “I joined the Conservative Party in 2018 because I wanted to get Brexit done, reduce immigration and deliver for my friends and constituents in Ashfield.
“We voted to take back control of our money, law and borders. Well, this small boats fiasco has shown that we’ve lost control of all three.
“We’re making a mockery of Brexit, the rule of law and of the kindness and generosity of the British people.
“In 2021, we passed the Nationality and Borders Bill, yet the problem in 2022 is 15 times worse than in 2021.
“So, I’m putting my party on notice.
“I can longer keep making excuses to the hard-working people of Ashfield whose taxes are being used to house illegal immigrants in four-star hotels while our own homeless are out on the streets.”
The attack from the Tory MP comes only days after a rebellion by backbenchers forced the Prime Minister into two separate climbdowns on onshore wind and housing targets.
Mr Anderson uses the letter to float the possibility that he could end up leaving the party if insufficient action is taken, in what would prove to be another headache for the Prime Minister.
He writes: “My party can be a force for good in this great country, but it isn’t yet choosing to be.
“If this isn’t solved within the first three months of 2023, we will struggle to retain the red wall seats and my conscience will be severely tested because I want to stand as a Conservative candidate representing a party that will put the interests of my constituents before the thousands of illegal immigrants arriving here every month.”
He concludes his article with a warning to the Prime Minister: “We need to sort this out by the end of March, otherwise my constituents and I will rightly lose patience.”