Rishi Sunak vows to end asylum claims from small boat arrivals

  • Written by Mary Jackson and Simon Jones
  • BBC News

image source, Getty Images

Anyone arriving in the UK on a small boat will be barred from claiming asylum, under new laws expected to be announced next week.

Home Secretary Soella Braverman said ministers have a duty to “rapidly detain and remove” anyone who comes into the UK via this route.

The prime minister has previously said that “stopping the boats” is one of his five priorities.

The British Red Cross charity described the plans as “extremely troubling”.

Braverman is expected to introduce the new legislation on Tuesday.

Currently, asylum seekers have the right to remain in the country for their case to be heard. Under the new legislation, those arriving on small boats will be barred from seeking asylum in the UK, deported to Rwanda or a “safe third country” and permanently barred from returning.

He is expected to travel to Paris for a summit between the United Kingdom and France on Friday. The meeting with President Emmanuel Macron will be the first UK-France summit since 2018.

It is believed that the two politicians will discuss the small boat crisis.

Mr Sunak has vowed to “stop the boats once and for all” – a pledge he previously made twice in his first major speech in 2023.

and speaks to The sun on Sunday “The only way into the UK will be a safe and legal one,” Braverman said.

There are still many questions about how this new plan will work.

The Home Office says there are a number of “safe and legal” routes into the UK. However, some of them are only available to people from certain countries such as Afghanistan and Ukraine, or to holders of British citizenship in Hong Kong.

Other avenues of asylum only accept a limited number of refugees according to specific criteria.

The announcement comes days after leaked WhatsApp messages from Matt Hancock dominated the news agenda as well as the Boris Johnson Partigit investigation.

The British Red Cross said the plans would do little to stop people risking their lives in search of safety.

Another charity, Freedom from Torture, which provides treatment to asylum seekers, has been described as “vindictive and dysfunctional”.

The government’s pledge is not explicit. No migrants have been sent to Rwanda and plans to do so are currently on hold. There is also no repatriation agreement in place with the European Union.

Last year, the government announced an agreement with Rwanda to send asylum seekers there on a one-way ticket.

But the plan has yet to get off the ground after being met with fierce opposition from activists and legal interventions.

Opponents argued that Rwanda was not a safe destination and that the scheme violated human rights laws.

The government says it will discourage others from crossing the English Channel, but so far there is no evidence of this happening.

This is the highest number since the government began collecting these numbers in 2018.

The latest Home Office figures show that 2,950 migrants have already crossed the channel this year.

The asylum seekers coming to the UK are from a range of countries, including Albania, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria.

Most of those who come by boat claim asylum when they arrive in the UK, and if their case is accepted they can apply to remain in the UK.

However, asylum applications submitted on or after 28 June 2022 can be rejected if the applicant has a “link to a safe third country”, such as EU countries.

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