By Connor Steel
HOME SECRETARY Suella Braverman has unveiled controversial new legalisation focused on cutting illegal migration following speculation over recent weeks; vowing to “stop the boats” as the Government attempts to act on voter priorities and also rebuild flagging polling for the Conservatives before the next general election.
The Fareham MP used a statement in the House of Commons to address a range of problems regarding this subject, stating that more than 45,000 migrants entered the UK via channel crossings in 2022; a number that was up from approximately 300 just five years ago. She also warned that a hundred million people worldwide could apply for safe protection under our current legalisation in the UK and they “are coming here” every day.
Addressing the Government’s decision to act, Ms Braverman said that illegal arrivals were in “flagrant breach of our laws and the will of the British people”; stating that Downing Street would “betray the will of the people we have been elected to serve” if they did not act straight away. She further referenced the dangers of illegal channel crossing which was seen in December 2022 following deaths of four migrants in subzero conditions.
Under multiple new powers listed in the ‘Illegal Migration Bill‘ the Home Secretary will have the duty to detain and remove all those arriving in the UK illegally. Migrants will be sent to a safe third country like Rwanda and this will take legal precedence over the right to claim asylum, whilst bails and judicial reviews will be rejected.
There are limited exceptions with under 18s permitted to lodge appeals against their deportations; alongside those who are medically unfit or at a real risk of serious harm in the country they are removed to. People will be prevented from using modern slavery laws to oppose removal unless cooperating with British law officials.
Migrants who are moved from the UK will be blocked from returning to the country and will not be allowed to seek British citizenship in future; this law applying retrospectively from Tuesday going forward. Parliament is also set to introduce a limit on figures relating to those migrants arriving via the use of safe and legal routes.
The plans were welcomed by Conservative MPs including Dame Caroline Dinenage, who commented: “This is long awaited progress on the issues of small boat crossings. It is wrong that people smugglers are able to profit on the vulnerable by sending them on (many) dangerous, life-threatening voyages across the channel.”
The MP furthermore offered her support to the legislation: “Today’s announcement will no doubt send a clear message that this perilous journey is not worth it. If you enter this country illegally, you will be removed back to the country of origin or to a safe third country. Many (local) constituents contact me on this issue, rightfully concerned about the enormous risk to life & the cost to taxpayers of the uncontrolled flow of illegal migrants.”
But concerns have been raised about the bill’s legal standing with the Home Secretary admitting she couldn’t offer “a definitive statement of compatibility” in relation to current international law / acts like the UN Refugee Convention and European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). This means that Government could face a legal challenge as seen with last Autumn’s Rwanda bill, which is currently a subject of multiple court appeals.
Questions remain about how the bill will actually solve the main issues of processing appeals and necessary checks for asylum seekers; with a backlog of cases still being reduced. Experts also believe that more detail is needed on how the bill will reduce the number of channel crossings with huge people trafficking gangs still active; alongside whether wider rules need to be added for those travelling to the UK illegally by other ways.
Opposition MPs were also critical as Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper said the legislation was “letting people smugglers off the hook” and “making this chaos worse”. Green MP Caroline Lucas then added it was “morally repugnant” to stop people from claiming asylum unless they pursued safe routes when they “barely exist” or “don’t function”; whilst there was multiple comments about the bill’s rhetoric and lack of compassion.
The bill is available to read via this link and MPs will be invited to debate its contents next Monday according to the Parliamentary schedule, with a vote to be held later that evening. Amendments and further readings of this legislation will take place in the Commons before transferring to the House of Lords for their full scrutiny.
Readers are encouraged to visit media sites such as BBC News, Sky News and ITV News for all developing updates, which will see Braverman participate across earlier morning interviews before PMQs starts at noon.
PICTURED BY ALAMY (2GB80MJ): Small boats used by migrants line up in a Dover storage facility in 2021.