Fresh plan to tackle migrants crisis takes inspiration from Greece – reports

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·5-min read
Fresh plan to tackle migrants crisis takes inspiration from Greece – reports
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Asylum seekers will have to obey strict rules in new centres or face their claims being rejected under new plans advocated by Priti Patel reports have suggested.

The Daily Telegraph reported that the Home Secretary had been impressed with centres being built in Greece where migrants were put under strict curfews and faced routine checks on their movements.

And the newspaper reported Ms Patel had praised the “very different” approach taken by Greece in the face of the migrant crisis, including the digitisation of the asylum process in order to speed it up and save on paperwork.

Priti Patel (Aaron Chown/PA) (PA Wire)
Priti Patel (Aaron Chown/PA) (PA Wire)

A UK government source was quoted by The Telegraph as saying that if migrants breached the rules, their asylum claim could be impacted.

But it comes as the Times reported Boris Johnson had drafted in Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Steve Barclay to oversee the rising number of migrants arriving on Britain’s shores.

The Times reported that the PM was “exasperated” with the issue following a number of strategies to stem the flow.

Some previously reported plans including the use giant wave machines to prevent migrant crossings, nets to snare boat propellers, and floating walls in the sea, were “never considered”, Dan O’Mahoney, the Home Office’s Clandestine Channel Threat Commander, told the Home Affairs Select Committee earlier this week, adding on the wave machine idea: “I think it’s a bizarre idea.”

And he described a number of the ideas that made their way into the headlines as “fanciful”.

But the move to bring in Mr Barclay could be seen as an admission that the Home Secretary has not managed to tackle the issue.

Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Stephen Barclay (Steve Parsons/PA) (PA Wire)
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Stephen Barclay (Steve Parsons/PA) (PA Wire)

It comes after Sir Keir Starmer accused Ms Patel of failing to deliver on promises to stem the flow of illegal migrants crossing the Channel.

The Labour leader said Ms Patel has not secured strong enough agreements with the French government to prevent migrants making the dangerous sea journey.

He said the Home Secretary repeatedly used “strong language” to say how she would tackle the problem, but delivered “absolutely nothing”.

His attack came as Ms Patel blamed the EU’s open borders – established by the Schengen Agreement – for failing to check the movement of people through the bloc.

Speaking to reporters during a visit to Washington, she said she was “constantly pressing” the French on the issue, but that they were “overwhelmed”.

“Let’s not forget that the real problem on illegal migration flows is the EU has no border protections whatsoever – Schengen open borders,” she was quoted as saying.

More than 24,700 people have arrived in the UK so far this year after making the Channel crossing in small boats – almost three times the number there were in 2020.

This includes at least 1,247 who arrived since Monday, according to data compiled by the PA news agency. This number is set to rise as the exact figure for Tuesday is still being finalised by the Home Office.

It is thought at least 10 migrants have died in the last few weeks while trying to make the dangerous crossing.

It comes as campaigners threatened the Home Secretary with legal action over so-called pushbacks after reports she had sanctioned the tactics to turn migrants around back towards France at sea.

Meanwhile, French President Emmanuel Macron is reported to have said the British “oscillate between partnership and provocation” when discussing the migrant crisis in an interview with Lille-based newspaper la Voix du Nord, adding: “We need to further strengthen collaboration.”

Officials have described how violence levelled at French police has intensified recently, highlighting incidents where an officer had their ear bitten off, and another where canisters of CS gas had to be used to disperse a group of migrants.

French police officers patrol the beaches in Wimereux near Calais (Gareth Fuller/PA) (PA Wire)
French police officers patrol the beaches in Wimereux near Calais (Gareth Fuller/PA) (PA Wire)

Downing Street said the Government was continuing to work “extremely closely” with the French authorities on the issue, but that the problem required a co-ordinated response from countries across Europe.

“We are facing a global migration crisis choreographed by organised crime groups who put people on these boats to make these incredibly dangerous crossings,” a No 10 spokesman said.

“This is an urgent issue for the whole of Europe, requiring incredibly close working together with our neighbours – France, Belgium and the Netherlands – as well as our friends across the continent. It is a shared problem so we need shared solutions.”

Sir Keir said the Government also had only itself to blame for the failings in Britain’s “busted” asylum system.

Ms Patel complained earlier this week that a “dysfunctional” system had allowed Liverpool bomber Emad Al Swealmeen to remain in the UK despite reportedly having had an asylum application rejected in 2015.

Sir Keir said: “My jaw dropped when I heard the Home Secretary say that the problem is that the asylum system is busted.

Labour leader Keir Starmer (Stefan Rousseau/PA) (PA Wire)
Labour leader Keir Starmer (Stefan Rousseau/PA) (PA Wire)

“This Government has been in power for 11 years. If the asylum system is busted it is busted under their watch.

“Asylum applications used to be dealt with in about six months many years ago. It now takes years. All of us MPs have constituents who have been waiting two years or more for their case even to be looked at.

“So if the asylum system is busted the question is who busted it and the answer is the Government.”

Meanwhile, the Albanian ambassador to Britain flatly denied reports his country has been in discussions with the Government about hosting a processing centre for migrants who arrive in the UK.

Qirjako Qirko told LBC radio that there had been “zero talks” between the two countries on the issue.

“It’s absolutely fake news because as my prime minister stated yesterday – the foreign minister also tweeted yesterday – that doesn’t exist, any negotiations between Albania and the UK regarding these processing centres,” he said.

“It will not be changed because my prime minister was crystal clear yesterday when he said that Albania… will never be a processing centre for illegal immigrants.”

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