PM says new immigration bill is ‘tough but necessary’
Rishi Sunak insisted he will give the country back control over its borders as he vowed to end the small boats crisis within two years. The Prime Minister said he will “break the cycle” of illegal migration by introducing tough new laws that will deter people from making the perilous journey across the channel.
Mr Sunak said the UK can only help genuine refugees once it has got a grip on the crisis.
He said: “It’s this country and your Government who should decide who comes here, not criminal gangs.
Mr Sunak vowed to stop the small boats crisis by the next election by taking the “brave and bold” action needed to end illegal crossings.
The Prime Minister promised to restore security to Britain’s borders with new laws that are “unlike anything that’s ever been done before”.
Migrants making the perilous journey across the channel will be banned from claiming asylum and removed within weeks under the reforms.
Mr Sunak insisted his plan is “novel, ambitious and bold” and will “get the job done”.
The PM said the UK can only help genuine refugees once it has got a grip on the crisis
During a visit to Dover, he told the Daily Express: “At the moment, we have a situation where criminal gangs are cruelly exploiting people. Tragically, some of them are dying.
“Unless we do something novel, ambitious and bold, we won’t be able to stop the boats from coming. And that’s what our legislation does.
“People can have confidence because it goes further than any Government has done before. And people can see that.
“It delivers a system that I think people all agree is the right one.
“People can see that I’m someone who actually is gripping this problem and will deliver for them.”
Lawyers are already preparing to snarl up the courts to stop the government in its tracks.
But Mr Sunak insisted he is “up for the fight” and he is “confident that we’ll win”.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman
The Prime Minister made it clear that he intends to “stop the boats” before the next general election.
“I wouldn’t be standing here if I didn’t think that I could deliver on this promise,” he said.
More than 45,000 migrants crossed the English Channel in small boats last year and 3,000 have made the journey so far this year.
During the visit to Dover, Mr Sunak was shown around a control room where staff talked through how they use tracking radars and monitor movements in the Channel.
Large screens displayed footage of what would on a normal day show boats destined for the UK travelling in real time.
Staff told him that on busy days “we have to prioritise, we have to look in the boats and see if there are women and children in there”.
The Prime Minister was also shown a small boat that was intercepted by Border Force employees on Sunday.
Staff handed him a card that is thought to have been given to migrants by people smugglers, instructing them to call a number when they reach the halfway point in their journey across the Channel.
He then viewed a surveillance drone used to relay live video and was taken into a van used as a mobile operation vehicle, also used to monitor movements at sea.
Mr Sunak said: “It would only get worse unless the Government is brave enough to do something different about it.”
“This is a large and growing problem, not just for the UK, but for lots of countries. And that’s why it’s really important that we get a grip of it.
“Unless we do something radical and bold and different, which is what this law is, the situation will just get worse.
“And I think it’s already clearly wrong, immoral, unfair and unsustainable.
“It would only get worse unless the government is brave enough to do something different about it.
“That’s what we are doing today.
Successful Channel crossings by migrants
“The legislation that we’re bringing forward is unlike anything that’s ever been done before.
“It will get the job done.”
But the PM insisted his plan to tackle the growing crisis is also based on compassion for the migrants who are being sent out into the Channel on unsafe boats by smuggling gangs.
Speaking at a press conference in Downing Street later, he said: “What is not compassionate is to allow the current situation to persist.
“There is nothing compassionate about allowing vulnerable people to perish in the Channel. People being exploited by criminal gangs and smugglers.
“There is nothing compassionate or fair about us not being able to help the truly most vulnerable people around the world because our system is being overwhelmed by those who are jumping the queue and coming here illegally.
“And they are not the most vulnerable. They are travelling through multiple safe European countries, they are paying people thousands of pounds to get here.
“I want to move to a system where we break that cycle, we deter people from coming here illegally, jumping the queue, and actually, we as a country can then make sure that we decide who we bring here, how many and make sure we target that compassion, generosity and support on the world’s truly vulnerable.”
The Illegal Migration Bill will apply retrospectively to migrants who arrive in the country from Wednesday in an attempt to stop a surge in crossing by people trying to beat the system.
Adults entering the country without permission will be barred from using the Human Rights Act and Modern Slavery laws to challenge deportation.
They will face a lifetime ban from entering the country.
Mr Sunak said: “We will detain those who come here illegally and then remove them in weeks, either to their own country if it is safe to do so or to a safe third country like Rwanda.
“And once you are removed, you will be banned – as you are in America and Australia – from ever reentering our country.”
The Home Secretary will have a legal duty to remove illegal migrants and the Government will have new powers to detain asylum seekers for 28 days.
The Prime Minister, who has made stopping the boats one of his five priorities, defended the bill amid claims it would be in breach of human rights laws.
He also revealed that the first Channel migrants could be deported to Rwanda this Summer.
UK asylum applications by nationality
The Bill will also introduce an annual cap, to be decided by Parliament, on the number of refugees the UK will offer sanctuary to through safe and legal routes.
Officials indicated hopes of the Bill being passed by the end of the year, which could see it in force ahead of any anticipated 2024 election.
Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said the plans were “just government by gimmick”.
Amnesty International’s Steve Valdez-Symonds said the approach is “frankly chilling”.
Alp Mehmet, chairman of campaign group Migration Watch UK, warned MPs and peers not to “neuter” the legislation.
“As it stands, the small boats Bill has many of the right ingredients to solve the channel crisis,” he said.
Conservative Party Deputy Chairman Lee Anderson
When I come down to London and listen to people talking about illegal immigration it’s sometimes like visiting another planet.
You listen to people talking about it on BBC studio sofas and realise how big the disconnect is between the average person and the chattering classes.
These people have no idea what the reality of the challenge is for those on the frontline, or what it’s like for my constituents.
But we in the Conservative Party listen to real people, not left-wing so-called charities and campaigners – so we are taking a stand against criminal gangs and their customers.
The promise of asylum in Britain has led to the shipping of thousands of supposed “refugees” across the channel, with them being dumped them on the doorsteps of ordinary Brits who are paying £7m a day to put them up in hotels.
The Labour Party would have you believe that these arrivals are refugees fleeing danger and war. But the last time I checked, there isn’t a war in France.
The reality is that most of these people are adult, male, economic migrants, who want to use our public services and claim our welfare.
Why should these people benefit from four-star hotel accommodation and taxpayer funded meals, whilst people graft hard to benefit their families and their country?
Illegal immigration undermines those coming here by legal routes, it is queue jumping under the cloak of “asylum”.
So we are removing the supposed “golden ticket” that has made the UK look like a promised land to criminal gangs and their customers.
We are delivering on our promises to tackle inflation and cut backlogs, and we are not going to let small boats sabotage that.
You’ll see Labour do their usual thing with this.
Slippery Starmer has refused to even mention migration. People in his own shadow cabinet like Yvette Cooper even want to “encourage asylum”, and his MPs line up in droves to protest any sort of border controls.
Starmer’s cosy relationship with his human rights lawyer pals has led to court case after court case trying to stop us deporting violent criminals and relocating those with no right to be here to Rwanda.
But I’m proud of our country. I’m proud of the strength of this party and this government. And so I’m proud of what we are doing to stop the small boats and end this illegal trade.
Lee Anderson is the Conservative Party Deputy Chairman
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Our Prime Minister is right. We need to stop the boats crossing the Channel.
Lives have been lost. Ruthless people smugglers cash in.
But we won’t stop the boats without other ways to help people fleeing war, persecution and violence.
The Prime Minister has said he will create more so-called “safe routes” – refugee visa schemes, for instance – for people seeking asylum. We would welcome this.
It was done quickly, and rightly so, for people escaping war in Ukraine last year. But there are other countries ravaged by war and persecution – and a truly global compassionate Britain must play its part.
The UK can’t take everyone. We aren’t asking for that. Most refugees stay in countries next to their own and many European countries take in far more than we do.
But we do need a system of safe routes. Unworkable and costly new laws which will mean refugees are locked up and then deported without a fair hearing on British soil are not the solution.
It’s not a crime to be a refugee. Treating people seeking safety as criminals won’t stop the boats.
It goes against British values of fairness and respecting people’s rights. No one fleeing Ukraine is expelled or locked up for wanting to come to the UK. They get a visa.
Let’s not forget the majority of people on the boats have powerful reasons for fleeing. Syrians face bombs and bullets. Eritreans are repressed in a violent one-party state.
Sudanese people live in fear amid civil war. Iranians face persecution. Iraqis are terrified by disappearances and attacks. Afghans must live under the tyrannical rule of the Taliban.
Some Albanians too will have cause to seek safety, from trafficking, sexual exploitation and blood feuds.
The reality is that two-thirds of all those on the boats – wherever they come from – will be granted refugee protection because their case for asylum is so strong. It’s something for any country to be proud of, welcoming those seeking safety.
So the Prime Minister is right to want to stop the boats. But he is wrong to demonise men, women and children, imprison them as if they are criminals and throw them on a plane without a fair hearing.
We must instead try to stop the boats by creating safe routes and support those in need in a way which is true to the best of British values.
*This story has not been edited by The Infallible staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.