Extinction Rebellion activists block Home Office building in Glasgow

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  • Priti Patel
    Priti Patel
    British politician (born 1972)

An Extinction Rebellion (XR) protest has blocked the front entrance to the Home Office building in Glasgow.

The activists locked themselves to each other and to the property’s gates from about 7am on Monday.

The protesters, from XR Scotland and XR Glasgow, are calling on the UK Government “to end its hostile environment policy towards migrants​​​”.

They said the demonstration had been organised in response to Home Secretary Priti Patel’s Nationality and Borders Bill passing through the House of Commons.

The bill was introduced after 27 people lost their lives trying to cross the Channel in November – a journey that has resulted in 166 people being recorded as either dead or missing since 2014.

Ms Patel’s bill – which cleared the Commons last week – seeks to curb these crossings and also change how asylum claims are processed.

A spokesperson for XR Scotland said: “The Nationality and Borders Bill must be stopped.

“It’s beyond cruel to criminalise people seeking asylum.

“It’s state-sanctioned murder to grant immunity to Border Force staff if refugees die after being pushed back into French waters.”

The demonstration follows a mass protest against the bill on Sunday outside 10 Downing Street by several equalities organisations.

Photos of the scene in Glasgow on Monday show the protesters taking action in solidarity with those in London, with banners saying “Refugees Welcome”, “End the Hostile Environment” and “Climate Justice = Migrant Justice”.

English Channel migrant deaths
An Amnesty International campaigner wearing a Priti Patel mask tears up a ‘Refugees Welcome’ placard opposite the Houses of Parliament in London (Victoria Jones/PA)

A 67-year-old retired social worker who took part in the protest said: “The UK’s heartless hostile environment policy routinely denies migrants their human rights, preventing access to employment, healthcare, housing and other basic services.

“The world’s richest 10% are responsible for half of global emissions compared with the poorest half emitting only 10%, yet it will be the communities least responsible that are forced to flee their homes on a scale never seen before as the climate crisis escalates.

“The hostile environment must end, there can be no climate justice without migrant justice.”

Migrant Channel crossing incidents
Boats used by a group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover, Kent, by Border Force, following a small boat incident in the Channel (Steve Parsons/PA)

Ministers in Scotland and Wales jointly condemned measures in the UK Government’s Nationality and Borders Bill as “barbaric” last week – as well as warning that the legislation may need approval from the parliaments in Edinburgh and Cardiff.

Scottish Social Justice Secretary Shona Robison and her Welsh counterpart Jane Hutt wrote a joint letter to Ms Patel to demand the UK reconsider its “hostile environment strategy” and develop “sufficient safe and legal routes” for asylum seekers.

Both the Scottish and Welsh governments have “far-reaching concerns about the impact of the provisions” in the bill, the Home Secretary was told.

Ms Robison and Ms Hutt stated: “This legislation contains measures that will prevent migrants crossing the English Channel in small boats, including the barbaric suggestions for ‘push-back’ exercises involving enforcement officials seeking to repel small boats.

“Rather than help matters, these measures will delay rescues and endanger lives.”

In response to the protest, a UK Government spokesperson said: “As part of our New Plan for Immigration, we are establishing safe and legal routes to enable the most vulnerable people to start a new life in safety in the UK.

“People should not make life-threatening journeys to the UK and should claim asylum in the first safe country they reach. We are changing the law so those who facilitate dangerous crossings can face life behind bars.”

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