This week the Prime Minister set out his plan to tackle the issue illegal migration through small boats crossing the English Channel. The UK has a proud history of welcoming the most vulnerable people from around the world to seek refuge, but the current situation is unsustainable.
Over 45,000 people illegally crossed the Channel in small boats last year, putting pressure on local public services and abusing our laws and asylum protections to remain here.
Many of those arriving in small boats originate from safe countries and travel through safe countries to skip the queue. That is unfair on those who come here legally and unfair on the British people who play by the rules – that is why the Prime Minister made stopping small boats one of his five priorities.
The Prime Minister and the Home Secretary have already delivered the largest ever small boats deal with France; a new agreement with Albania so the vast majority of Albanian illegal migrants are sent home; a new, permanent, unified Small Boats Operational Command with 700 new staff; tougher immigration enforcement; a tighter system for processing modern slavery claims; and a plan to clear the initial asylum backlog by the end of 2023 and move migrants out of expensive hotels.
But we need to go further – doing everything we can to tackle this issue. The Prime Minister and Home Secretary are therefore pursuing a novel and ambitious approach that goes further than any previous immigration bill, making sure that if you enter the UK illegally:
∙ You will be detained immediately and removed to a safe country within weeks
∙ You will not be able to claim asylum in the UK – instead your claim will be heard in Rwanda or another safe third country. This means the 90 per cent of arrivals who claimed asylum in 2022 would no longer be able to stay in the UK
∙ You will not be able to access the modern slavery system in the UK. You will only be able to delay removal if you are required by UK law enforcement to cooperate with an investigation or prosecution
∙ You will have no ability to make spurious and late claims to frustrate removal
∙ Any human rights claims will be heard after removal, with the only exception to this being an extremely small number of claimants able to show ‘compelling’ evidence they face a ‘real risk’ of ‘serious and irreversible harm’ in the specific safe country they are being sent to.
Once we have stopped the boats, we will do more to help those who genuinely need our help, by expanding safe and legal routes as we have done for Syria, Afghanistan, Hong Kong and Ukraine, while introducing an annual quota on the number of refugees we can accept.
As expected, the opposition have attacked the plans, voting against every measure we have brought forward to protect our borders, but not set out a single alternative.
The public are right to demand control of our borders and that is exactly why stopping the boats is one of our five priorities. This bill will create an asylum system able to withstand the pressures facing our country. It means the vast majority of illegal migrants will be removed, delivering the deterrent needed to stop people making these crossings. By taking these steps, we will be tough but fair, detain and remove illegal migrants, and stop the boats.