Conservative rebels await assurances on controversial illegal immigration bill

The legislation aims to detain UK asylum seekers if they arrive by unauthorized means, including by crossing the English Channel in small boats.

The bill has been denounced by the UN refugee agency as an effective “asylum ban” and has also faced objections from different groups within the Conservative Party.

A group of right-wing Conservative MPs have signaled that it doesn’t go far enough, with some calling on ministers to pull the UK out of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) to push for tighter border controls and prevent them from being stifled by the courts. .

Rishi Sunak
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak takes part in a question and answer session during a Connect event in Chelmsford, Essex (Kin Cheung/PA)

Others in the liberal wing want Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to commit to establishing safe routes through which asylum seekers can reach Britain.

Demonstrators protesting against the bill gathered in Parliament Square on Monday as the measures returned to the House of Commons.

Conservative MP Sir Bill Cash said he and others on the party’s right have tabled “constructive” amendments, in which he hopes the government will compromise with them.

The chairman of the European Scrutiny Committee told the Commons: “This bill to stop the boats is legally and politically necessary because illegal immigration is out of control, partly because it fails to distinguish between genuine refugees and others who are migrants. illegal and cheap

“We must prevent people from making these dangerous and deadly journeys in small boats. We must stop crime, we must stop illegal migration and the cost of this and the impact of this on our local and national resources.”

Sir Bill said he believes the bill “can achieve that aim with good will” after pointing to Tory amendments, including his own to ensure that the only way to prevent a person from being deported is through a successful suspensive claim. .

He said: “We have asked the Government to constructively engage with us on these amendments and give us strong assurances today on the floor of the House to improve the bill in light of our amendments, and on the basis that they give such assurances. . , and I understand they will, I will not push my amendment to a vote.”

The legislation would see asylum seekers arriving by unauthorized means be held without bail or judicial review for 28 days before being “expeditiously removed” to their country of origin or to a “safe third country” such as Rwanda.

Former Conservative Communities Secretary Simon Clarke has urged ministers to do more to ensure the bill is not subject to legal challenges on human rights grounds.

Urging MPs to back her amendment aimed at preventing various sections of the Human Rights Act from having an impact on the bill, Clarke said: “Ultimately we know our best and probably only chance to get this legislation don’t get entangled in human rights law. is for this place to be absolutely clear and unequivocal about our intentions.

“It seems to me that my amendment flows in that spirit and that we should show the determination now, not after the fact, as long as the fears that many of us in this House have have been realized, to make our intentions clear on the face of the bill”.

Illegal Migration Bill
Danny Kruger MP, leader of the rebellion against the illegal migration bill, in Downing Street (Yui Mok/PA)

Conservative Danny Kruger (Devizes) said: “The new framework we need must honor the fundamental principle of both the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and the Refugee Convention, the principle that the primary responsibility for managing asylum lies with in the nation state. .”

He added: “My amendment ensures that the deportation policy can go ahead despite any decision of the European Court. No more pajama mandates in the middle of the night.”

Kruger said he “expects to work” with the government ahead of the bill’s reporting stage to ensure it is “waterproof”.

Former Conservative minister Tim Loughton said he would push through his plans for the safe and legal routes required for a vote unless there were “substantial guarantees” from the government.

Mr Loughton said it is “not good enough” for the government to say it will find some safe and legal routes after the bill is passed.

For Labour, shadow immigration minister Stephen Kinnock called the bill “utterly counterproductive” and said they would oppose it.

He said: “It is only going to make all the challenges we face worse. We at these banks believe in supporting legislation that really addresses the substance of an issue, rather than chasing tabloid headlines.”

SNP internal affairs spokesman Stuart McDonald said the proposals should be “discarded outright” as they “disregard international human rights law”.

Earlier, Sunak tried to downplay suggestions that he and Home Secretary Suella Braverman were at odds over the bill, following reports that she has been privately encouraging right-wing rebels to push it. to toughen the law.

Speaking during a visit to Essex, Mr Sunak said he was confident they had crafted a bill that was “robust and effective” and continued to comply with the UK’s obligations under international law.

Downing Street rejected suggestions that Braverman was being used as a “right-wing sock puppet” by Tory rebels seeking to dilute the role of the European Court of Human Rights.

The bill will complete its first day of committee stage on Monday and continue for a second day on Tuesday.


Leave a Reply