Suella Braverman, the Home Secretary, has welcomed a report jointly written by Nick Timothy, a former Home Office adviser and Downing Street chief of staff, which calls for a raft of tough new policies to stop the illegal Channel crossings.
The report, published by the Centre for Policy Studies, proposes:
- Indefinite detention of all asylum seekers who enter the country illegally
- Rapid offshoring to Rwanda for all asylum seekers who enter the country illegally
- Further agreements with other countries to supplement the Rwanda deal
- New laws making it impossible to claim asylum in the UK after travelling from a safe country, and barring migrants who enter the country illegally from ever settling in Britain
- Changes to human rights laws to allow detention and offshoring – including, if necessary, Britain’s withdrawal from the European Convention on Human Rights
- A reformed Modern Slavery Act, tightening criteria and evidential thresholds, limiting appeals, and allowing exclusions for whole nationalities where there is widespread abuse
- The creation of an identity database and system of mandatory identity cards
- All future grants of asylum to be made through resettlement routes
- A statutory cap – no more than 20,000 per year – on the numbers coming to Britain through resettlement routes
- Prioritisation of cases based on the criteria of vulnerability, geography, urgency, alternative support and domestic capacity
Polling by BMG Research for the Centre for Policy Studies confirmed that the public overwhelmingly endorse a tougher approach on immigration, especially those voters who have abandoned the Conservatives in recent months.
- 59% of voters think immigration has been too high over the last 10 years; only 9% think it has been too low
- 27% of voters cite immigration as one of the most important issues facing society today, and among the ‘Conservative switchers’ who voted Conservative in 2019 but have since drifted away, almost half (48%) see immigration as a key issue
- 74% of voters think that the Government is handling the issue of migrants attempting to cross the English Channel by boat badly, with a clear majority of these voters (68%) saying it is not being restrictive enough
- On six out of 10 suggested metrics, the public think that immigration over the last 10 years has had an overall negative impact – on housing, crime, schools, wages, jobs and culture
- 63% of voters support a cap on the number of asylum claims granted each year (just 23% oppose)
- 68% of voters say the UK should be able to deport migrants who break the law irrespective of human rights laws (only 18% say it should not)
- 55% of voters say that Parliament should have the final say on the legal framework that the UK follows for human rights, versus just 27% saying the ECHR
- Large numbers of voters support the Rwanda policy, including clear majorities of 2019 Conservative voters (56% support vs 19% oppose) and Leave voters (60% vs 16%)
In her foreword, the Home Secretary writes:
“The British public are fair-minded, tolerant, and generous in spirit. But we are fed up with the continued flouting of our laws and immigration rules to game our asylum system. And we’ve had enough of the persistent abuse of human rights laws to thwart the removal of those with no right to be in the UK. This must end. Saying so is not xenophobic or anti-immigration…
“I know that to deliver the Rwanda partnership at scale, to disrupt the organised gangs who facilitate these illegal journeys, to remove the incentive for people to illegally cross the Channel, and to ensure we have an asylum framework that is fit for purpose, requires further work. The Prime Minister and I are committed to doing whatever it takes. We are finalising our plan, and we will deliver the operational and legislative changes necessary to comprehensively tackle this problem.
“While I do not agree with everything in this report, I welcome it as a vital and necessary contribution to the policy debate about what can be done to tackle the crossings. It is correct to recognise the complexity of the problem, and the intersection of several policy challenges: human rights laws, international conventions, diplomatic relationships with third countries, operational effectiveness, and the various push and pull factors that cause people to want to come to live here.
“As the report makes clear, none of this is easy. There are no silver bullets. But nor is it the case this problem cannot be solved. 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.”
Nick Timothy, joint author of the report, said:
“Neither the number of people crossing the Channel to come here illegally, nor the overall level of legal immigration we have right now, is sustainable. If we are to stop the crossings, we will need to take immediate and bold action of the kind described in our report.
“This is a complex situation, which requires us to solve several interconnected public policy problems simultaneously. It is not something that can be fixed through gradual, incremental change. We need a completely different approach and if human rights laws prevent us from taking that approach and securing our border, we must be prepared to change those laws and if necessary leave the ECHR altogether.”
Karl Williams, joint author of the report, said:
“Mainly thanks to the Channel crossings, annual asylum costs have tripled to over £2.1 billion – enough to purchase seven new Type 31 frigates or cover the wages of 62,000 nurses. This year costs are likely to be even higher, with taxpayers continuing to foot migrant hotel bills during a painful cost of living squeeze.
“There is no silver bullet solution to stopping the small boats and regaining control of Britain’s borders. But any cost-effective solution is going to involve, alongside other deterrent measures, offshoring thousands of asylum seekers to safe third countries, including Rwanda.
“Our analysis, drawing on the hugely successful Australian example of ‘Operation Sovereign Borders’, shows that this approach could feasibly yield savings of around £8 billion over five years and significantly reduce the number of migrants attempting to enter Britain illegally.”
Source note: BMG Research interviewed a representative sample of 1,838 GB adults online between 29th September – 3rd October. Data are weighted. BMG are members of the British Polling Council and abide by their rules.