Sunak to welcome Italy’s prime minister to Downing Street

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Rishi Sunak and Italy’s premier Giorgia Meloni are expected to discuss tackling irregular migration when they meet in London on Thursday.

The Prime Minister will welcome his far-right Italian counterpart, who is on a two-day visit to Britain, to Downing Street in the afternoon.

The pair will then head to Westminster Abbey together for a private tour.

Stemming the flow of migrants – whether in small boats across the English Channel or from north Africa across the Mediterranean – is a key issue for both leaders.

The meeting comes a day after the Government’s flagship asylum Bill cleared its final stages in the House of Commons, though it will face a stiff test in the Lords when it undergoes further scrutiny.

The Illegal Migration Bill will change the law so people who arrive in the UK illegally will be detained and then promptly removed, either to their home country or a safe third country such as Rwanda.

In Italy, Ms Meloni has led a crackdown on migrant smugglers and on rescue ships operated by charities, which she argues encourage migrants to risk dangerous voyages in the hope of reaching Europe.

The two leaders’ meeting is also expected to focus on the agreement between the UK, Italy and Japan to develop next-generation fighter jets.

The defence partnership, announced in December, aims to see the planes – called Tempest in the UK – take to the skies by 2035 and serve as a successor to the RAF Typhoon.

Continued support for Ukraine in its struggle against Russia’s invasion is also likely to feature in their talks.

Mr Sunak and Ms Meloni first met on the sidelines of the Cop27 climate summit in Egypt last November, weeks after they both took office within days of each other.

According to a read-out from No 10 at the time, they “had a positive discussion on a range of shared issues and priorities, including tackling illegal migration and people-smuggling gangs”.

Ms Meloni’s Brothers of Italy party leads the country’s first hard right-led government since the Second World War.

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