Rishi Sunak and Suella Braverman warned laws to stop migrants on small boats claiming asylum 'unworkable'
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Home Secretary Suella Braverman is set to publish long-promised legislation as soon as Tuesday that would make asylum claims from those crossing the English Channel on rafts inadmissible. Prime minister Rishi Sunak on Sunday vowed to put an end to ‘immoral’ illegal migration, while Ms Braverman said ‘enough is enough’.
Details on the legislation are scarce but critics have already questioned both the legality and effectiveness of such a plan. Labour have accused the Conservatives of recycling old promises.
The legislation would see a duty placed on the Home Secretary to remove ‘as soon as reasonably practicable’ anyone who arrives on a small boat, either to Rwanda or a ‘safe third country’. Arrivals will be prevented from claiming asylum while in the UK, with plans also to ban them from returning once removed and block them from claiming citizenship.
Cabinet minister Chris Heaton-Harris, during an appearance on BBC One’s Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg, also indicated that there could be ‘more safe and legal routes’ in the future. The Prime Minister, who has made “stopping the boats” one of his five priorities, is preparing to act after months of pressure from Tory backbenchers.
Several Tory MPs welcomed the news that a Bill was imminent, with Tory MP Danny Kruger calling it a “serious plan” on BBC Radio 4’s Westminster Hour. Questions have been raised about how legislation, based on the details known so far, could be compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.
The Rwanda scheme became mired in legal challenges and no flights carrying migrants have set off to capital Kigali so far. Home Office figures show 2,950 migrants have crossed the Channel already this year.
Enver Solomon, chief executive of the Refugee Council, said the plans ‘shatter the UK’s long-standing commitment under the UN Convention to give people a fair hearing regardless of the path they have taken to reach our shores’. He added: ‘They will simply add more cost and chaos to the system.
‘The majority of the men, women and children who cross the Channel do so because they are desperate to escape war, conflict and persecution.’ The charity said figures show that of all those who crossed the Channel last year, two-thirds would be granted asylum.
‘The Government’s flawed legislation will not stop the boats but result in tens of thousands locked up in detention at huge cost, permanently in limbo and being treated as criminals simply for seeking refuge,’ he said.
‘It’s unworkable, costly and won’t stop the boats.’ Steve Valdez-Symonds, Amnesty International UK’s refugee and migrant rights director, called the plans ‘disgraceful posturing and scaremongering’.
Labour wants to know if the plan will end the backlog in asylum claims while also including ‘proper return agreements’ with France and other countries. Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said: ‘Ministers have made countless claims and promises yet the facts show their last law badly failed and made things worse.
‘Instead of learning lessons, it looks like they are still recycling the same rhetoric and failure.’ A Home Office spokesperson said new legislation would ensure people arriving in the UK illegally are detained and returned to their home country, or a safe third country.