As published in the Daily Mail
Rishi Sunak is facing mounting pressure from Tory MPs to make emergency changes to modern slavery laws to reduce the number of ‘bogus asylum seekers’ crossing the Channel in small boats.
A group of 50 led by ex-minister David Davis has written to the Prime Minister to rapidly implement a ‘simple’ change in the law to help reduce the flow of people that has reached 40,000 this year.
They want changes to modern slavery laws to make it easier for people they believe do not qualify for asylum, who say they are victims of trafficking, to be returned.
The Tory backbenchers say that the Channel crossings are a ‘Gordian Knot that needs cutting with a simple policy’.
The demand comes as Mr Sunak and Home Secretary Suella Braverman face pressure to prevent the crossings and improve the conditions which asylum seekers experience in the UK.
Signatories including Sir Graham Brady, the chairman of the 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers, demand that ‘economic migrants’ travelling from ‘safe countries’ such as Albania are returned more quickly.
They argue that ‘people claiming they have been unwilling victims of human trafficking or modern slavery’ should be returned ‘to their homes in the villages from which they came from’.
Mr Davis told Sky News today that Albanian arrivals should be told ‘immediately – in a summary decision’ that they cannot claim asylum.
The Tories argue ‘if they have really been taken against their will, then they could not reasonably object to being returned to their own homes’.
‘The quirks in our modern slavery laws that prevent this are clearly in defiance of the aims of that law and should be removed,’ they wrote.
They argue the ‘straightforward and legally workable way of addressing the crisis’ would be a ‘very strong deterrent’ for those planning to risk the perilous crossing.
Former Cabinet ministers Dr Liam Fox and Esther McVey, and longest-serving MP Sir Peter Bottomley, also signed the letter, which demonstrates nerves among the Conservative that failing to tackle the issue will hurt them at the ballot box.
A Government spokeswoman responded: ‘We have made clear that there is no one single solution to stop the increase in dangerous crossings.
‘We have also made clear that we will continue to use every tool at our disposal to deter illegal migration.
‘We are expediting the removal of individuals by agreeing tailored bilateral returns agreements with partners like Albania, elevating it to a key priority for our foreign policy.’
Ms Braverman has come under fire over the dire conditions in the Manston migrant processing centre, the site in Kent where one man under detention died of diphtheria.
She is also facing criticism for failing to slow the perilous crossings of the English Channel by people in small boats.
This week she admitted the Government has ‘failed to control our borders’ but blamed desperate migrants and people smugglers for the overcrowding in Manston.
‘I tell you who’s at fault. It’s very clear who’s at fault. It’s the people who are breaking our rules, coming here illegally, exploiting vulnerable people and trying to reduce the generosity of the British people. That’s who’s at fault,’ she told MPs.
A Home Office source said Ms Braverman is ‘working flat out alongside the Prime Minister to bring in reforms to help stem the flow of migrants across the Channel’.
It came as it was revealed migrants with diphtheria and Covid are to be confined to their hotel rooms to prevent outbreaks to the general population.
The new emergency health guidance emerged the day after an Iraqi migrant who died in the controversial Manston immigration centre was confirmed to have been infected with diphtheria, a highly contagious infectious disease
Ms Braverman has been facing criticism following reports that dozens of asylum seekers believed to be infected with diphtheria were shifted to hotels around the UK from Manston.
The health guidance has been issued to hotels acting as accommodation for asylum seekers after around 50 cases of diphtheria were detected among them, The Times reported.
As part of the emergency measures, asylum seekers housed in hotels must remain in their rooms and will be sent meals with crockery and utensils that must not be used by others.
Linens must not also be shared, while migrants must double-bag their laundry before leaving it outside their door, and clean their rooms themselves.
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), the government body responsible for protecting the public against infectious disease outbreaks, issued the guidance following a number of outbreaks in hotels and centres housing migrants, according to The Times.
Alongside diphtheria, cases of other contagious skin conditions such as scabies, group A Strep and MRSA have been found in residents of migrant hotels, as well as flu, Covid-19 and norovirus.
The UKHSA said overcrowding at the Manston migrant processing centre in Kent was among the reasons for the emergency guidelines, adding that low vaccination uptakes among migrants were another concern.
However, Trish Mannes, UKHSA Director for the South East, said in a statement that the risk of diphtheria to the general public ‘remains very low, due to high uptake of the diphtheria vaccine in this country.’
She added: ‘In order to limit the risk of diphtheria being passed on within asylum seeker settings, UKHSA continues to recommend that individuals arriving at Reception Centres, and who have moved on recently, are offered a diphtheria vaccine and preventative treatment.’
A number of migrants were rehoused in hotels nationwide following the closure of the Manston processing centre amid reports of overcrowding and outbreaks.
Suella Braverman was criticised for the move by Lib Dem health spokesperson Daisy Cooper, who called for the home secretary’s resignation.
Writing on Twitter, the MP said: ‘The UK is better than this. The Conservative government should be ashamed of their complacency over the health and wellbeing of asylum seekers coming out of Manston.
‘This is more than an outrage. This is a scandal. Braverman must take responsibility and resign immediately.’
The controversial Manston centre now stands empty after being crammed with more than twice the number of Channel arrivals it was designed to process.
As published in the BBC
More than 50 Tory MPs have urged Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to alter “quirks” in modern slavery laws to make it easier to send some migrants home.
The letter, arranged by former Brexit Secretary David Davis, demands those travelling from “safe countries”, such as Albania, be returned more quickly.
The MPs maintain a “simple” change in the law could ease the current crisis.
A Home Office source said Home Secretary Suella Braverman was “working flat out” to solve the issue.
The source said Ms Braverman and Mr Sunak were working “to bring in reforms to help stem the flow of migrants across the Channel”.
More than 40,000 people have crossed in small boats from France so far this year.
In the letter, Tories describe the crossings as a “Gordian Knot that needs cutting with a simple policy”.
The signatories argue that a provision in current law prevents the government from returning a person who says they are a victim of modern slavery to their original home.
“If they have really been taken against their will, then they could not reasonably object to being returned to their own homes,” the letter said.
“The quirks in our modern slavery laws that prevent this are clearly in defiance of the aims of that law and should be removed.”
MPs, including former cabinet ministers Dr Liam Fox and Esther McVey, and veteran backbenchers Sir Peter Bottomley and Sir Graham Brady, are among the 50-strong body of Conservative politicians calling for the change.
They argue this “straightforward and legally workable way of addressing the crisis” would be a “very strong deterrent” to those who might be planning to make the trip across the Channel.
Mr Davis said the number of people from safe countries like Albania claiming asylum in the UK was “paralysing the whole system”.
“I want to protect the asylum system for people who really need it,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
The large majority of migrants claim asylum on arrival in the UK and many are housed in hotels while awaiting the outcome of their applications, which are often subject to delay.
Speaking last week, Ms Braverman admitted the UK government has failed to control its borders, blaming migrants and people smugglers for recent chaos at Kent’s Manston processing centre.
Thousands of migrants were placed in tents at the centre during the autumn months, leading to overcrowding and outbreaks of disease.
Everyone staying at the temporary site has since been placed in alternative accommodation, according to the Home Office.
Last month, MPs from the Home Affairs Committee heard how the UK was spending about £7m a day on hotels to house asylum seekers.
A government spokeswoman said: “We have made clear that there is no one single solution to stop the increase in dangerous crossings.
“We have also made clear that we will continue to use every tool at our disposal to deter illegal migration.
“We are expediting the removal of individuals by agreeing tailored bilateral returns agreements with partners like Albania, elevating it to a key priority for our foreign policy.”
As published in the Telegraph
Letter from over 50 Tory MPs, led by David Davis, urges Prime Minister to pass emergency laws to crack down on ‘bogus’ asylum seekers.
Illegal immigrants who claim to be victims of modern slavery should be sent back to their home country, Rishi Sunak has been told.
A letter from over 50 Tory MPs, led by former cabinet minister David Davis, urges the Prime Minister to pass emergency laws to crack down on “bogus” asylum seekers.
It comes amid rising pressure on the Government to find ways to prevent the rising number of small-boat crossings, with Home Secretary Suella Braverman last week admitting that Britain has failed to control its borders.
The letter, whose signatories include former cabinet ministers Esther McVey and Liam Fox, as well as chair of the 1922 committee Graham Brady, argues that ministers could rapidly implement a change in the law to help tackle the issue.
‘Returned to the villages’
They argue that “people claiming they have been unwilling victims of human trafficking or modern slavery” should be returned to “the villages from which they came”.
“If they have really been taken against their will, then they could not reasonably object to being returned to their own homes,” the letter explained.
“The quirks in our modern slavery laws that prevent this are clearly in defiance of the aims of that law and should be removed.”
They argue that in the specific case of Albanian migrants, this would provide a “very strong deterrent” for anyone considering making the crossing across the Channel.
Earlier this month, the National Crime Agency (NCA) said that Albanian Channel migrants are being coached to exploit modern slavery laws to avoid deportation in a “blatant manipulation” of the system.
NCA chiefs said a “significant number” of the Albanians in the UK had entered illegally to work in the “grey” market or for organised criminal drug gangs and were sending back “hundreds of millions of pounds” a year to Albania.
They said there was evidence from Albania that migrants were told before they left for the UK that if they chose to join crime gangs and were caught, they should claim to be victims of modern slavery in order to avoid deportation and remain in the UK.
The example of Sweden
The MPs also demand that “economic migrants” travelling from “safe countries” such as Albania are returned far more rapidly.
They cite the example of Sweden, which rejects 100 per cent of Albanian “asylum seekers” on this “summary basis”.
The letter, whose signatories also include Sir John Hayes, chair of the Common Sense Group and David Jones, deputy chair of the European Research Group, argue that emergency legislation should be used to push the changes through.
The Home Secretary has said she was determined to “fix” the “crisis” over illegal migration as she signalled that a new “legal framework” will be unveiled after Christmas aimed at curbing the record 42,000 migrants who have illegally crossed the Channel so far this year.
She has previously admitted the Channel crisis is “out of control,” but went further last week, telling MPs: “We have failed to control our borders. That’s why I and the Prime Minister are absolutely determined to fix this problem.”
Ms Braverman has also come under fire over conditions for migrants in the Manston processing centre, with the Home Office admitting that a man’s death at centre may have been caused by a diphtheria infection.
On Sunday it emerged that migrants with suspected infections of highly contagious diseases will be ordered to isolate themselves in their rooms to prevent spreading to the general population.
Outbreaks of skin infections
Emergency public health guidance has been issued to hotels following growing outbreaks of skin infections such as diphtheria, scabies, group A Strep and MRSA, respiratory infections such as flu and Covid-19, and gastrointestinal infections such as norovirus.
A Home Office source said Ms Braverman is “working flat out alongside the Prime Minister to bring in reforms to help stem the flow of migrants across the Channel”.
The Sunday Times reported that Mr Sunak is using a three-pronged approach to tackle illegal migration, ordering the Home Office to hire 250 more staff to deal with Albanian arrivals and increase ministerial oversight, as well as instructing Foreign Secretary James Cleverly to pressure other countries into honouring deals to accept migrants back.