Queen’s speech. Small boat crossings and reckless eco protestors.
Welcoming refugees from Ukraine is the right thing to do and I’m proud at how many people across the Town and Suffolk have opened up their homes. It was also right that we were generous to Afghan refugees, particularly those who worked as interpreters and supported our armed forces.
However, it’s clear that in the short term this act of generosity will place significant pressure on public services (school places, health services, council housing, you name it). This will become all the more challenging if robust action is not taken to cut off illegal small boat crossings from France. Unless this parallel illegal route into our country from mostly young men from another safe European country is dealt with my fear is that pressure on public services could become intolerable. It’s for this reason that I welcomed the focus on tackling the small boats issue in the Queen’s speech and the Rwanda plan (for which its opponents have no alternative).
During my speech I also welcomed the Public Order Bill that was announced in the Queen’s speech. This Bill will create a criminal offence of ‘locking on’ to prevent activists chaining themselves to buildings, vehicles and other protesters. It will carry a maximum penalty of six months and an unlimited fine. Stop and search powers will allow police to detain campaigners carrying bike locks and other equipment designed to make themselves difficult to remove. A new offence will also be introduced to specifically ban the obstruction of key national infrastructure such as airports, railways and newspaper printing presses, which will be punishable by up to 12 months in prison and an unlimited fine.