Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick has warned that the UK’s asylum system is at “breaking point” as he vowed to do “everything in our power” to stop small boat crossings. As the BBC was rocked by the extraordinary row over Gary Lineker, Mr Jenrick insisted the plan to tackle illegal immigration would go ahead, declaring: “Enough is enough.”
Mr Jenrick made it clear there will be no U-turn as MPs prepare to debate the measure in Parliament on Monday. And he warned: “This problem will undoubtedly get worse if we don’t take radical action.”
He admitted that chaos in the immigration system is costing taxpayers millions of pounds and causing tensions across the country, with more than 37,000 asylum seekers housed in hotels at a cost of £5.6million a day.
He said: “Eye-watering amounts of taxpayers’ money is being used to pay hotel bills to accommodate illegal arrivals.
“Public services are being placed under immense pressure.
“And communities’ ability to manage such large numbers of new arrivals is being tested, with tensions now rising.”
He denied suggestions that small boat migrants are fleeing persecution, saying: “Each and every migrant setting off in a flimsy dinghy is already in a
safe country: France.”
Ministers are determined to get the new asylum system up and running before summer, when the number of arrivals is likely to soar.
Last year there were 45,755 people detected crossing the Channel in small boats, half of them in August, September and October.
This was almost double the figure of 28,526 arriving in 2021.
It has caused a massive backlog in the immigration system, with 160,000 people waiting to be processed.
New laws will bar people who have been removed from the UK from being granted immigration status or British citizenship unless they receive an exemption from the Home Secretary.
The Bill also allows illegal migrants to be held without bail or judicial review until they can be removed.
It places a duty on the Home Secretary to remove illegal entrants, and cut the number of appeals that can be used to delay removals. It will also become harder to avoid deportation by claiming to be a victim of modern slavery.
Ministers are gearing up for a possible court battle after admitting that sections of the legislation may not be compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.
Steve Valdez-Symonds, Amnesty International’s refugee and migrant rights director, said: “The bill is offensive to any notion of respect for the international laws the UK has freely adopted, the rule of law in this country, and the human dignity of each and every one of us.”
But Conservative MPs have welcomed the legislation and urged the Government to stand up to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) if it attempts to block the plans.
Tory Mark Francois said: “The elephant in the room is the ECHR. Unless we can somehow face it down, we will remain tied up in legal knots in our own domestic courts and, ultimately, in Strasbourg.”
The asylum system costs the taxpayer £3billion every year.
New polling by Ipsos shows belief in the Conservatives on immigration and asylum issues has improved, with 33 per cent trusting the Government to handle the issue of migrants crossing the Channel – up nine per cent since February.
The Lineker row ensured the BBC was caught in the political crosshairs, with Sir Keir Starmer accusing the broadcaster of “caving in” to Tory MPs.
But Damian Green, acting chairman of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, said: “Gary Lineker has become a serial offender against BBC rules. He is clearly showing contempt for those rules and BBC management.”
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