Today, Home Secretary Rt Hon Priti Patel is in Rwanda finalising a £120 million deal that will see some asylum seekers’ applications, largely single men that the British Authorities see as inadmissible, processed in the African nation. This is in response to large numbers of individuals who ignore the legal routes for immigration in favour of dangerous crossings in small boats onto British shores. This trade has only grown in recent years, with this year looking set to break another record for attempted crossings. Unfortunately, this success only further encourages individuals to try to cross and has resulted in even more deaths of people trying to reach the UK.
The steps announced by the Home Secretary today are a strong indication of the Government’s commitment to tackle the deplorable trade started by criminal gangs and to prevent the tragic loss of life when these small boats sink. The Prime Minister also announced that this new decision is part of the Government’s longer-term plan to take back control of illegal immigration, with the Royal Navy also now commanding the Channel crossings operation. These are encouraging steps welcomed by the 1922 Backbench Home Affairs Committee.
Chairman Tom Hunt MP commented “Both Lee and I are very confident the vast majority of Conservative MPs will welcome what was announced today. With over 600 people risking their lives by crossing the channel on Wednesday, this is much wanted news. Figures from last year showed over 20,000 more individuals crossed compared with 2020, and the Prime Minister pointed out today that 70% of those who come over illegally are young men. Each one of these crossings is supporting a diabolical trade, fuelled by criminal gangs that does not seem to be slowing down. These steps from the Government today are a big step in the right direction and will place a much-needed deterrence on these crossings.
I have long called for offshore processing since my election in 2019. I firmly believe it is the only way to effectively deter these small boat crossings that so very often result in the tragic loss of life. I know that Australia has effective offshore processing, and it is high time that the United Kingdom follows suit. Since leaving the EU we’ve effectively taken control of legal immigration, but we need to do the same with both illegal immigration and our asylum system, and this is a big step towards that.
I also note that some in the Labour party have labelled this as ‘cruel’ and attempted to link this positive action, long in the pipeline, with the Prime Minister’s current position. I would ask what is crueller? Allowing this illegal trade to continue, where drownings are frequent, high-risk collisions with haulage tankers are likely and where individuals firmly believe living in a camp in Calais is the right thing to do or sending a clear message preventing these journeys in the first place?
I would also argue that every illegal immigrant that ends up on our shores from another safe European country in France, limits our capacity to take in genuine refugees, like those from Ukraine, who desperately need safety and our support. Today’s news opens up a clear dividing line between politicians who truly want us to control our borders and those who don’t.
Some individuals are criticising the cost associated with what is being proposed. I would argue that costs associated with today’s decision are unlikely to be never ending, as the deterring effect, preventing others from making the crossing, will save significant costs in the future. In addition to this I would ask what are the costs of currently accommodating illegal immigrants? Many are in hotels and with record numbers expected this year, this will only add to the never ending costs associated.
I welcome this news and will see that the 1922 Backbench Home Affairs Committee supports the implication of this as soon as possible. It is about time that we tackled this long-standing issue of illegal immigration, and I am glad I can show my constituents, who have long called for firm action to be taken, that the Government is listening and acting.”