Home secretary welcomes report calling for crackdown on asylum seekers
Suella Braverman, UK home secretary, has welcomed a report calling for a major crackdown on asylum seekers who come to Britain using illegal routes, including putting them into indefinite detention.
Braverman is under growing pressure from Tory MPs to control cross-Channel migration in small boats, with 44,000 people arriving in Britain using that route already this year.
On Monday, a centre-right think-tank will publish a report that says “if necessary” Britain should change human rights laws and withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights in order to tackle the problem.
Refugee groups said the proposals, if implemented, would represent a significant breach of Britain’s international obligations and mar its reputation as a haven for desperate people seeking sanctuary.
The Centre for Policy Studies report, co-written by Nick Timothy, Theresa May’s former chief of staff as prime minister, calls for new laws making it impossible to claim asylum in Britain after travelling from a safe country, such as France.
It also calls for a bar on migrants who enter the country using illegal routes from ever settling in Britain and a “rapid offshoring” of those migrants to Rwanda or other third countries willing to take them.
Timothy and his co-writer Karl Williams say Britain might have to leave the ECHR to allow detention and offshoring. They also want to reform May’s Modern Slavery Act, the UK’s main legislative tool for dealing with abuses in supply chains, to avoid its alleged abuse.
They argue that all future grants of asylum should only be made through official resettlement routes and capped at no more than 20,000 a year.
The issue of migration in small boats has become a major political problem for the Conservative government, particularly in working-class seats in the North and the Midlands.
Braverman said she did not agree with “everything” in the report but she said she welcomed it as making a “vital and necessary contribution to the policy debate about what can be done to tackle the crossings”.
In a foreword to the report, she said: “There are a range of policy options. And with clear thinking, political will, and determination, we can prevail against the smuggling gangs, against those who abuse our system, and we will comprehensively tackle the small boats problem.”
Tory MPs are tiring of tough talk from home secretaries and want action from the government to tackle the rise in migrant crossings. Braverman’s allies refused to say which parts of the CPS report she supported.
They also described as “wrong” a report in the Sunday Times that ministers were drafting laws banning asylum seekers arriving by illegal routes from ever settling in Britain.
Separately Robert Jenrick, immigration minister, said it was “very hard” to see how Albanians, who currently represent the largest number of small boat crossings, should be able to successfully be able to claim asylum when they came from a “demonstrably” safe country.
Enver Solomon, chief executive of the Refugee Council, a UK charity, said of the CPS report: “The policies outlined in this report would amount to the UK walking away from the Refugee Convention, which we were a founding signatory of just over 70 years ago.”
Yvette Cooper, shadow home secretary, said the government asylum policy was in “chaos” and was based on “headline chasing”.
“They should adopt Labour’s plan including a specialist unit in the National Crime Agency to go after the criminal gangs that are driving this, and immediate action to clear the backlog and the chaos from the asylum system,” she said.