The Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, has introduced the Illegal Migration Bill to the House of Commons aiming to “stop the boats.” The Illegal Migration Bill had its first reading in the House of Commons on March 7th and is set to have its second reading on March 13th. Government officials are optimistic about passing the bill by summer or fall.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman expressed confidence in the package that had been put in place and early signs of progress but also acknowledged concerns about the bill’s compatibility with the European Convention of Human Rights.
“We are very clear in our promise, and the Prime Minister’s promise that he’s made, that we want to stop the boats. It will be pretty obvious when we achieve that. We’re going to see, thanks to the measures, thanks to the 10-point plan, a dramatic reduction in the numbers of people coming across on dinghies,” Suella Braverman told ITV.
“I am very encouraged by the results we are already seeing. A record deal with France, we are bearing down on the backlog. We have already returned hundreds of Albanians since the Prime Minister’s announcement in December. So those are early signs of progress, more to do and that’s why I’m pleased to have introduced the bill yesterday,” she added.
The bill seeks to prevent migrants from utilizing the Human Rights Act to contest their detention and removal from the UK.
However, concerns have been raised about the reputational cost of such legislation and the emotional and inflammatory nature of the debate surrounding the fate of asylum seekers. The Home Secretary stated on the face of the bill that she was uncertain of its compatibility with the European Convention of Human Rights. An email was sent in the name of Home Secretary Suella Braverman to Tory members, accusing civil servants of blocking attempts to control illegal immigration in the past, and blaming a left-wing activist group for it. The email was withdrawn after senior civil servants expressed anger, and Number Ten explained that the ghostwriter who drafted the email had not received clearance and that Braverman had not seen it.
While some Tory MPs would like to withdraw from the European Convention of Human Rights, one of the greatest proponents of human rights was Churchill, widely considered the greatest conservative of them all.
In Westminster, the Prime Minister has defended his plan to reform the UK’s asylum system, saying it shows his government is “on the side of the British people.” Rishi Sunak maintains that the bill’s incompatibility with incarcerating all asylum seekers does not equate to breaking international treaties. The decision will be left to the courts.
The proposed legislation would ban people who arrive in the country in small boats from claiming asylum or seeking British citizenship. The Labour leader, Sir Keir Starmer, accused the government of delivering an “utter failure” and called the latest plan a gimmick.
Prime Minister Sunak could not provide clarity on the fate of detained asylum seekers after 28 days due to the current inability of the courts to allow deportation to Rwanda and limited options for alternative countries. As it stands, an individual migrant may still have the right to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg if they can demonstrate that their deportation to an African nation would violate protections ensuring fair and safe treatment.
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