By Andrew MacAskill and Kylie MacLellan
LONDON (RockedBuzz via Reuters) – Britain has set out the details of a new law banning entry to asylum-seekers arriving in small boats across the Channel, a proposal some charities say could be unworkable and criminalize the efforts of thousands of real refugees.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has made halting boat arrivals one of his five key priorities after the number of migrants arriving on England’s south coast rose to over 45,000 last year, an increase of 500% in the last two years.
The new legislation will mean that anyone arriving this way will not be able to claim asylum and will be returned to their home country or to so-called safe third countries.
Anger over immigration has played a big part in British politics over the last decade and Sunak’s Conservatives hope that by taking a hard line they can rebuild their popularity as they trail the main Labor Party by around 20 percentage points in the polls. opinion.
The UN refugee agency said it was “deeply concerned” about the proposals, which would deny people the right to asylum “no matter how genuine and convincing” individual cases may be.
The government said on the front page of the bill that it may not be compatible with Britain’s obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights, meaning it could face legal challenges if made into law.
Sunak said he would do “whatever it takes” to stop the small boats and was ready to fight any legal action.
“We are ready for the fight, I wouldn’t be here if we weren’t, but we are actually confident that we will win,” he said at a news conference.
Legislation will allow migrants to be held without bail until they can be removed, Home Secretary Suella Braverman said, and those entering Britain illegally can no longer use anti-slavery laws to try to block removal .
Only children, people deemed too ill to fly or those at “real risk of serious and irreversible harm” will be able to seek asylum in Britain.
Just under two-thirds of those arriving in small boats are currently granted asylum or another form of humanitarian protection, Interior Ministry data show.
Although the number of asylum applications in the UK reached a 20-year high of nearly 75,000 in 2022, it is still below the EU average. Germany received more than 240,000 asylum applications last year.
Opposition politicians and charities questioned whether the latest plans would be more effective than previous attempts over the past five years to dissuade people from crossing.
Labor spokeswoman for home affairs, Yvette Cooper, described the government’s announcement as another ‘Groundhog Day’ and said it should work with other countries to address the issue.
Last year, Britain agreed a deal to send tens of thousands of migrants more than 4,000 miles (6,400km) to Rwanda.
The first deportation flight was blocked by an injunction from the European Court of Human Rights. London’s High Court later ruled it lawful in December, but opponents are trying to appeal that verdict.
Braverman said he was in talks with the European court of human rights to halt the use of injunctions to prevent future deportations of migrants.
He suggested to parliament that without changes to the law, 100 million asylum seekers could benefit from protection in Britain, but he provided no evidence to support that figure.
(Reporting by Andrew MacAskill, Kylie MacLellan, Sachin Ravikumar, Sarah Young, William James, Muvija M and Alistair Smout Editing by Sharon Singleton, Bernadette Baum and Mark Potter)