Rishi Sunak sets stage for new law to tackle small boats
Proposed legislation expected to be published as soon as Tuesday to address illegal immigration across the English Channel.
LONDON — Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has set the stage for a U.K. law to tackle the flow of small boats across the English Channel, warning: “If you come here illegally, you will not to be able to stay.”
The U.K. government is expected to publish proposed legislation as soon as Tuesday which could see those arriving in the U.K. on small boats banned from claiming asylum. Ministers hope a suite of moves, which also includes plans to send people seeking asylum to Rwanda, will deter migrants making dangerous crossings to Britain.
The announcement is expected to come ahead of Friday’s Franco-British summit at which the issue of small boat crossings is expected to be high on the agenda of discussions between Sunak and French President Emmanuel Macron.
In quotes issued to the Mail on Sunday, Sunak said: “Illegal migration is not fair on British taxpayers, it is not fair on those who come here legally and it is not right that criminal gangs should be allowed to continue their immoral trade. I am determined to deliver on my promise to stop the boats. So make no mistake, if you come here illegally, you will not to be able to stay.”
Speaking to Sky News on Sunday, Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris said he was not privy to the timing of the announcement, but he confirmed reports that new “black and white” legislation would mean migrants deemed to have come to the U.K. “illegally” would be “banned from claiming asylum.”
In a sign that Sunak is also seeking to repair relations with European counterparts in an effort to deliver on his priority of tackling small boat crossings, Heaton-Harris later told the BBC there were “proper conversations” being held with French and other European counterparts “to try and ensure that people are held in the first safe country that they come to.”
“We need France also to help us in this situation,” Heaton-Harris had earlier told Sky.
Britain’s membership of the so-called Dublin arrangements, which allowed the U.K. to return people who passed through a safe third country to be sent back, lapsed after Brexit.
On the big criticism of the U.K. government’s asylum policy — a lack of safe and legal routes to get to the U.K. — Heaton-Harris suggested the U.K. government would look at opening more avenues. “I’m quite sure there’ll be more safe and legal routes,” he told Sky.