Portsmouth South candidates explain how they would tackle illegal immigration

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Portsmouth South candidates explain to sixth-form students how they would tackle illegal immigration.

General election hopefuls were asked how they would reduce the number of people entering the UK illegally during a hustings event hosted by The City of Portsmouth College.

Reform UK’s Mark Zimmer said controlling the UK’s borders is the priority, and doing so would involve leaving the European Convention of Human Rights.

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He added that when small boat migrants arrive on UK soil they “need to be detained until we know who they are”. He added that the French government should be “picking them up” and returning them to France.

Stephen Morgan PortsmouthStephen Morgan Portsmouth
Stephen Morgan Portsmouth

In response, the Labour Party incumbent candidate Stephen Morgan said he “really hates” the “divisive” language we see in current politics and that he’s “hugely” proud of Portsmouth’s status as a city of sanctuary.

He said the main challenge arises from the Home Office’s slow processing of asylum claims which is “heartbreaking” as people arrive “legitimately and they need to be supported”.

He explained that Labour’s strategy includes clearing the backlog of asylum cases, fostering closer cooperation with other countries, addressing humanitarian crises at their source, and establishing a border security force.

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Elliott Lee of the Green Party said it’s “divisive” and “ridiculous” to suggest that anyone can be illegal.

He added that if there were more safe and legal routes into the UK “we wouldn’t have the problem of small boats”.

“How are people supposed to be getting from Sudan, Albania, Eritrea, Vietnam where people are fleeing for their lives.”

Jacob Short of the Portsmouth Independent Party echoed concerns about divisive and “alienating” language and objected to any actions that might discredit human rights.

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Conservative candidate Signe Biddle said the government plans to deter people smugglers through the Rwanda scheme – which would deport asylum seekers to Rwanda.

She stated that although she does not believe the UK should withdraw from the ECHR, she considers its role to be “questionable”.

“Nobody wants to send anybody to Rwanda, it’s supposed to be a deterrent,” she added.

In closing, Liberal Democrat candidate Charlie Murphy said: “Simply standing up and saying stop the boats is not going to solve it – I think every time you hear a Conservative politician say we have a plan you ask why it’s not worked for the last 14 years.”