I went on BBC Radio Suffolk this afternoon to talk about the unacceptable surge in illegal channel crossings and the letter I sent with 22 other Conservative MPs calling on the Home Secretary to take action so that illegal migrants are immediately returned.
I like many am completely fed up with the lawlessness in the Channel and the slap in the face it represents to the law-abiding people of this country and genuine asylum seekers who wish to come to this country legally. All of those who try to come here illegally across the Channel have left a safe European Country to do so and there is absolutely no justification for them to break our laws to get to the UK.
As we set out in our letter, action, not words, is what is needed now. It’s been over four years since we voted to take back control of our borders but our hands are still tied by EU and international rules which don’t allow us to put the people of this country first.
It is good that after the letter we sent, the Prime Minister has said we need to look at changing the law and efforts are underway to get the French to do more. But I’m also clear that our ability to control our borders must not be dependent on the whim of France or any other third country. We must be prepared to turn all illegal boats around and escort them back to France. These dangerous crossings will only stop when we have made it completely clear that all attempts will be futile as the Australians did when they were confronted with a similar problem.
I’ll keep working with other MPs to secure swift action and ensure this issue is treated with the seriousness it deserves and the public expects.
Today the Home Secretary made a statement on the horrific terrorist attack we saw in Reading at the weekend. And I asked her whether she thought our legal system is becoming a roadblock which prevents elected governments taking decisions in the best interests the law-abiding majority.
It appears the suspect in the Reading attack was a foreign national who came here illegally in 2012 but was granted asylum in 2018 despite having being jailed for other crimes as well.
We must have a legal system which allows us to deal with illegal immigration and to deport those who pose a risk to our country. This is the overwhelming view of the public but not it seems of certain liberal sections of our legal profession which exploit loopholes in our legal system to keep criminal foreign nationals in the UK.
I’m glad the Home Secretary is working to overcome the obstacles currently preventing more deportations and I will support the implementation of her plans as soon as possible.
Thank you to everyone who wrote in about with their latest views on the Government’s plans to introduce a quarantine for international arrivals from next week. On Wednesday, I got the chance to share them in a question to the Home Secretary in the Chamber.
It is disappointing that the quarantine was not introduced earlier when there were deep concerns during the peak of Covid-19 that 15,000 people were still flying into the country every day and the impact this could have on public health. I called on the Government at the time to introduce much stricter controls at the border.
Now on balance I think it’s right that this quarantine still goes ahead because preventing a second wave of the virus must be the top priority. But we also have to factor in that we aren’t where we were a number of weeks ago and other considerations are becoming increasingly important. In the Chamber I mentioned the particular contact I’ve had with people who have loved ones, including spouses, in other countries who are now hoping to make plans to visit them after months apart.
That’s why I called on the Home Secretary to take a flexible approach towards the quarantine moving forwards. We need robust health measures at the border but we must also be prepared to strike a balance where it is safe to do so.
I am glad that Government officials have been in contact with Australian officials to discuss how their “Operation Sovereign Borders” strategy worked which allowed them to successfully tackle illegal immigration. I know how important this issue is to many of my constituents and rest assured I am doing what I can both behind the scenes and in the House of Commons Chamber to ensure firm action is taken to halt the flow of illegal crossings we have witnessed recently. Essentially the Australian approach involved them adopting a zero tolerance to tackling “illegal maritime arrivals”. Law changes were introduced that enabled Australian authorities to intercept those attempting illegal crossings and to return them to their “Port of origin”. It does seem that we will also have to see some law changes here to allow firmer action to be taken. Ultimately it would be good if we had the powers necessary so we didn’t have to be so reliant on the French authorities to prevent the flow of illegal crossings across the English channel.
I know this is an issue that the Home Secretary Priti Patel is getting on top of but I agree that we need to see positive results as soon as possible. I will continue to make inquiries and will provide updates.
A number of constituents have contacted me over the past few days with concerns about the open border policy that the Government has adopted during the coronavirus outbreak. I must say I share many of their concerns and today I’ve written to the Home Secretary in order to express them. Many countries have decided to take a different approach and I can well understand that at a time when we’ve all been asked to socially distance and abide by tough lock down restrictions, it’s slightly perplexing to see around 15,000 people every day continuing to enter the country. I understand that this is well down on the average amount of people coming into the country through our airports but it’s still too high and it does concern me that many are coming from countries where there have been strong outbreaks of COVID-19 and very little testing has been done on our borders.
My view is that you should only be able to come to our country at this current time if there is a critical need and it really is “essential”. I appreciate that in the past many food producers have been reliant on seasonal workers from abroad and that some attempts were made to advertise these positions to people who currently live within the country, but there is a question as to whether every effort was made. Clearly having to import labour at this time is far from ideal.
Great to have Home Secretary Priti Patel back in Ipswich this morning. I invited her to Ipswich last week to meet our local police officers and to make the case for the Police funding formula to be reviewed, at the moment it is not fair on Suffolk, on average £154 is spent on policing per head of the population, the national average is £194. Suffolk Police are getting 54 extra Police Officers but I think it needs to go further.
We had a detailed discussion at Landmark House with the Chief Constable and local officers about the incidents of the past few weeks and I relayed to the Home Secretary the concerns that have been raised with me by my constituents. Following this we visited St Matthew’s Street where Richard Day tragically lost his life three weeks ago and then onto the Town centre where the Home Secretary was able to discuss matters with many of my constituents directly. The Government have committed to look at the police funding formula however the timeline hasn’t yet been confirmed. There is also an opportunity for Suffolk to benefit from the Safer Streets Fund that is focused on tackling theft and robbery. Most of my constituents who have discussed crime and anti-social behaviour with me feel that there needs to be a greater police presence not just in the Town centre but across the Town, I agree with them, however if this is going to happen then the Police needs the resources to do so it also needs its time to be freed up so it can do so. I was very glad the Home Secretary so soon after I raised my concerns with her and I think it says a lot about her determination as Home Secretary to tackle crime.
I was back at the Nansen Road Baptist Church this morning to welcome the Home Secretary Priti Patel to meet the inspirational volunteers behind the reflections youth club.