Tory rebels want to toughen new illegal immigration laws

illegal migrants
illegal migrants

Tory backbenchers are to mount an attempt to toughen the Government’s new illegal immigration laws by giving UK courts the power to ignore rulings by Strasbourg judges.

The rebel MPs are preparing to lay amendments on Wednesday designed to ensure plans to detain and remove migrants within weeks of arriving in the UK illegally can go ahead, irrespective of any judgements from the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

Ministers believe the Illegal Migration Bill does comply with the European Convention on Human Rights and other international laws but have admitted that there is a more than 50 per cent chance it could be ruled as being in breach by the courts.

If the legislation was ruled as non-compliant, the amendments would instruct the courts to ignore any rulings from the ECHR, effectively giving priority to the Government’s Bill over European judges.

It is understood the amendments are being backed by as many as 40 Conservative MPs representing a broad range of different groups in the party. They are due to be considered next week when the bill comes before the Commons for its committee stage.

There is also sympathy among some within the Government who believe that the European courts should not be allowed to undermine ministers’ attempts to end the Channel crossings.

‘They expect us to fix illegal immigration’

One of the leading MPs behind the move, Danny Kruger, Boris Johnson’s former political secretary, said: “The public won't forgive us if we fail again.

“They expect us to fix illegal immigration - even if the European Court tries to stop us. This Bill is our last chance to make sure that safe and legal routes are the only way to claim asylum in the UK.”

The Bill places a legal duty on the Home Secretary to swiftly remove migrants who arrive in the UK back to their home country or to a third country such as Rwanda where they can claim asylum.

The amendments would also empower the Government to ignore Strasbourg injunctions, such as the one which blocked the first deportation flight to Rwanda last June.

The explanatory notes for the amendments state: “The provisions of the Bill should operate notwithstanding any judgements, interim measures or other decisions of the European Court of Human Rights, or any other international court or tribunal, or any other international law obligation.”

The move comes as the Refugee Council warned that the Government would have to find accommodation over the next three years for up to 193,000 migrants whose asylum claims were deemed inadmissible but whom they could not remove from the UK.

‘Draconian legislation’

This would be equivalent to requiring 1,493 hotels, compared with the 450 currently being used to house 51,000. The council’s analysis suggested this would land the Government with a bill of more than £9 billion a year.

Enver Solomon, the council’s chief executive, said: “This draconian legislation stains our country’s reputation for fairness in the face of adversity. All the evidence shows that the vast majority of those who come here by so-called irregular routes are refugees escaping bombs and bullets, violence and persecution.”

The council calculated that over the next three years, up to 257,000 migrants will have their asylum claims deemed inadmissible as a result of entering the UK via small boats, lorry drops or overstaying their visas.

However, the council estimated only around 67,000 would be removed including about half to Rwanda. This would leave up to 193,000 who had inadmissible claims but could not be removed including 45,000 children.

A Home Office source said: “The Bill the Government has said it will deliver, once enacted, will have a massive deterrent effect on small boat crossings on the Channel. People simply won’t make the journey from northern France for thousands of pounds if they believe they are going to be detained and swiftly removed.”