Labour attacks ‘false claims’ in new asylum plans ahead of Commons debate
Labour has highlighted the “false claims and promises” in the Government’s plan to stop asylum seekers arriving in small boats as MPs prepare to debate the policy.
The Illegal Migration Bill could also face challenge from Tory backbenchers when it goes to the Commons for its second reading on Monday, according to reports.
Some are concerned the legislation could see children and families being detained and deported, with former home secretary Priti Patel reportedly considering a potentially explosive intervention over the issue.
Ahead of the debate, shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said: “Rishi Sunak’s Bill is unravelling. It is a con which will make our broken asylum system worse.
“Not only will it fail to tackle dangerous boat crossings, but it shows the repeated false claims and promises that both the Prime Minister and Home Secretary have made.”
Crack down on smuggler gangs.Clear the asylum backlog. Strike return agreements with safe countries.Reform legal routes for refugees.
13 years of Tory failure has let criminal gangs off the hook and left thousands of asylum claims unprocessed. pic.twitter.com/nAVwyOoLp7
— Keir Starmer (@Keir_Starmer) March 8, 2023
Inconsistencies highlighted by Labour included:
– Although the Prime Minister vowed that people coming to the UK illegally will be “swiftly returned”, he failed to secure return agreements with France and other countries except Rwanda.
– The PM said the Rwanda scheme is uncapped, but ministers have previously said the African nation can only take 200 people per year.
– The UK has the power to fast-track returns for Albania, but less than 1% of last year’s cases have been decided.
– Home Secretary Suella Braverman insisted the Government is not breaking the law, but admitted in a letter to MPs that there is a “more (than) 50% chance” her legislation may not be compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt on Sunday did not rule out the prospect of children being detained under the Government’s latest asylum plans.
He said “special arrangements” would be made for children, but would not be drawn on whether the Government will effectively overturn a ban – put in place by the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government – on minors being detained in relation to immigration cases.
Tory former justice secretary Sir Robert Buckland told GB News he did not think it was “right” to “treat children in that inhumane way”.
The Government’s plans, announced on Tuesday, would see migrants who arrive through unauthorised means deported and given a lifetime ban from returning.
Anyone who crosses the Channel in a small boat would only be eligible for asylum in a “safe” third country, such as Rwanda.
Powers would be granted to detain migrants for 28 days without recourse for bail or judicial review, and then indefinitely for as long as there is a “reasonable prospect” of removal.
It also places a duty on the Home Secretary to remove illegal entrants and it will “radically narrow the number of challenges and appeals that can suspend removal”.