Under plans due to be announced by the Home Secretary, migrants crossing the Channel will reportedly face a ban from claiming asylum in Britain.
At the Conservative Party conference, Suella Braverman will use her first major speech since taking on the role to set out the proposals, according to The Times.
The new laws – which go further than the Nationality and Borders Act which came into force in June – would impose a blanket ban on anyone deemed entering the UK illegally from seeking refuge, the newspaper said.
The announcement will mark the latest attempt by the Government to curb the growing numbers of Channel crossings after its flagship policy to send migrants on a one-way trip to Rwanda stalled amid legal challenges.
So far this year
So far this year more than 33,500 people have arrived in the UK after making the journey from France.
Campaigners described the anticipated announcement as “further attacks on genuine refugees” and a “blatant breach” of Britain’s international obligations.
Clare Mosley, founder of refugee charity Care4Calais, said: “This proposal by the new Home Secretary is barbaric, untruthful and unnecessary. The Government’s rhetoric around people crossing the Channel is simply false. There is a mountain of evidence that the vast majority are genuine refugees; this criminalisation of them is blatant victim blaming of incredibly vulnerable people, simply for the purpose of grabbing headlines.
“Those who have escaped from the worst horrors in this world should not be risking their lives once again simply to claim asylum in the UK. The obvious answer is to give them safe passage. This would break the model of people smugglers and save lives.
“If this Government truly wanted to stop small boat crossings it would offer safe passage to those who have a viable claim for asylum.”
Refugee Action’s chief executive Tim Naor Hilton branded it a “day of shame for the Government”, adding: “It is now clear that this Home Secretary cares only for keeping people out, not keeping them safe. Banning those crossing the Channel from claiming asylum is a blatant breach of the international refugee laws that the UK proudly helped create in the first place.”
Steve Valdez-Symonds, Amnesty International UK’s refugee and migrant rights director, warned that declaring the country an “asylum-free zone would make the UK a beacon for illegality” and that the Government’s behaviour was “doing serious damage to the UK’s international reputation”.
Steve Crawshaw, director of policy and advocacy at Freedom from Torture, said the “inhumane plans clearly undermine international rules introduced after the Holocaust that ensure no-one fleeing persecution is refused protection because of how they arrive in a country. Beyond the deliberately cruel rhetoric, her (Ms Braverman’s) proposals offer little new to the ever more extreme anti-refugee policies introduced over the last decade.”
Enver Solomon, chief executive of the Refugee Council, said the proposals were “deeply worrying and out of step with the majority of the public who support giving refugees protection.
“Prime Ministers since Winston Churchill have committed to the Refugee Convention – which we were a founding signatory of – and we should be strengthening our commitment to this, not seeking to break from it.
“None of what the Home Secretary is proposing will do anything to tackle the problems in our asylum system because it fundamentally fails to address the reasons people are forced to come here in the first place.”
Deal with France
Conservative former chief whip Andrew Mitchell said the plan would only work if the UK makes a deal with France, telling BBC Radio 4’s World at One programme she would need to “improve and mend the extremely fractious relationship which existed between Boris (Johnson) and President Macron.”
According to an extract of her speech, Ms Braverman will promise to allow “the kind of immigration that grows our economy” but “end abuse of the rules” as she addresses delegates.
She will set out her intention to ensure that the UK’s policy on illegal immigration cannot be derailed by modern slavery laws, the Human Rights Act or the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).
Ms Braverman is expected to call for France to stop more boats crossing the Channel and to confirm she is considering other new legislation to make it easier to deport people from the UK.
She is also said to be planning to make more use of detention centres to hold migrants.
Ms Braverman will tell the conference in Birmingham: “It’s right that we extend the hand of friendship to those in genuine need.
“This country has always done so. It did so for my father in the 1960s as a young man from Kenya. We have now welcomed hundreds of thousands of people fleeing Syria, Hong Kong, Afghanistan and Ukraine.
“At the same time we should use our newfound control to deliver the kind of immigration that grows our economy, for example that helps projects that have stalled or builds relationships with our friends and allies.
“Parts of the system aren’t delivering. We need to end abuse of the rules and cut down on those numbers that aren’t meeting the needs of our economy.”
Channel crossings continued on Tuesday after the Ministry of Defence (MoD) recorded 541 arrivals in nine boats on Monday.
In September, 7,961 made the crossing to the UK.
August 22 saw a record 1,295 migrants making the journey in a single day.
Prime Minister Liz Truss suggested she wanted more Rwanda-type deals to curb the numbers of people seeking to come to the UK.
Asked whether Channel crossings by migrants were a “crisis”, she told GB News: “The label ‘crisis’ is … that’s not the point, the point is it shouldn’t be happening and we’re going to stop it.
“I do want to look at more deals beyond Rwanda, I also want to make the Rwanda policy work by making sure we can control our own laws, and we can’t be overruled by the ECHR.”
Ms Braverman told a conference fringe event she would “love to be here claiming victory, I would love to be having a front page of the Telegraph with a plane taking off to Rwanda, that’s my dream, that’s my obsession.”
She said it would be “amazing” if the first flight could take off by Christmas, but added: “If I’m honest I think it’s going to take longer.”
Appearing on the Chopper’s Politics podcast, she said her “ultimate aspiration” would be to get net migration down into the tens of thousands but refused to set a target for the next election.
She told how she wanted to target student and work visas, and the dependents they can bring with them, adding: “I think we have too many students coming into this country who are propping up, frankly, substandard courses in inadequate institutions.”
Businesses like farms and shops will have to try harder to recruit in the UK rather than relying on foreign workers, she said, adding: “I don’t buy this line that says the British people don’t want to work in farms.”
Her appearance also prompted applause from the audience when she said she was “proud of the British Empire”, adding there was “obviously a mixed picture”, but she was “not going to apologise for empire”.