As published in the Telegraph
Britain is a dynamic, generous and outward-looking country. That has, and always will be, the case. We have led the world in giving asylum to those fleeing war, abuse and torture. Most recently we have taken in thousands of people through our Ukraine, Hong Kong, Afghanistan and Syria schemes.
However, the sad truth is that the goodwill and generosity of the British people is too often exploited. The number of people crossing the Channel to make an asylum claim has become unsustainable, and we have to act.
Last year, 45,000 people illegally crossed the Channel in small boats. This is having an effect on all of our constituents. It is putting pressure on public services like the NHS and schools. Hotels in too many of our towns, including in my constituency, are unfairly being used to house asylum seekers. It isn’t fair on ordinary working people, nor is it fair on those who come here legally and play by the rules. That is why the Prime Minister has made it one of his key pledge to stop the boats.
When it comes to illegal immigration we need to deploy a range of solutions. The Prime Minister has already struck the largest ever small boats deal with France. We have passed the Nationality and Borders Act, and the Illegal Migration Act.
We are working closely with the French to tackle what is, after all, a shared problem through joint patrols and closer cooperation. Mr Sunak has also secured an agreement with Albania, a safe and prosperous European country, to ensure that Albanians entering the UK illegally can be returned immediately. This has resulted in arrivals from Albania decreasing by 90 per cent.
Arrivals down by a third
What has become increasingly apparent here in the UK and in other countries including Australia, is that a deterrent works. The number of arrivals in the UK is down by a third, while other European countries are seeing crossings up by 80 per cent.
When the Supreme Court brought forward its judgment on Rwanda, the Prime Minister was very robust in his response. At the same time he promised emergency legislation, which has already been introduced in the House of Commons.
This is supported by a legally binding treaty, backed up by evidence that Rwanda is a safe and prosperous country. Both the UK and Rwanda are completely committed to this partnership, with both sides willing to do what it takes to get the deal up and running and flights taking off as soon as possible.
The legislation is very clear. It confirms that Rwanda is a safe country and will prevent the courts from second-guessing Parliament’s will. It will disapply parts of the Human Rights Act so that it can’t be used to block our policy. Illegal migrants will no longer be able to bring systemic challenges in our domestic courts or frustrate removal.
Crucially, however, the legislation does not contravene our international obligations. For me, this is key. External courts have not been able to stop governments in other countries from tackling the illegal immigration problem head-on, so why should they stop us, particularly in the post-Brexit age?
Current system is not working
I am a strong believer in the right to asylum. But bogus asylum seekers from safe countries are undermining that right and undermining its legitimacy in the eyes of the British public. There is clear evidence the current asylum system is not working as intended.
Before our agreement with Albania, more than half of asylum applications from Albanians were being approved. It plainly cannot be the case that these are legitimate asylum seekers given Albania is a safe country. Such things undermine the whole system.
We will legislate with precision while acting with firmness and compassion. By doing so, we will do what the public rightly expect us to do; stop the boats and control our borders. I will therefore be supporting the Prime Minister’s legislation next week, and I urge my fellow Conservative MPs to do the same.