Tory Home Secretary Suella Braverman will “push the boundaries of international law” to stop migrants entering Britain by illegally crossing the Channel, having declared that “enough is enough.” The Conservative Party, which has long positioned itself as the champion of controlled borders while presiding over record levels of entry (both legal and illegal), is now asking the British public to believe it is working “flat out” to deliver change.
Close to 46,000 migrants came to the UK in small boats across the Channel last year, up from 28,526 in 2021 and 8,466 in 2020. Officials believe the number will rise again this year, this time up to 65,000. But while previous schemes—supposedly set on altering this course—have ended in failure (most recently, the “Rwanda plan” saw its first flight of illegal migrants to the African nation cancelled following a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights—the ECHR), Tory leaders now claim to have found the answer.
Upon being elected prime minister, Rishi Sunak listed “stopping the boats” as one of his top five priorities. Accepting that the nation’s “patience” over Channel crossings has “run out,” Ms. Braverman this week said the Illegal Migration Bill will enable the government to detain for up to 28 days and later remove those who enter the country illegally while also banning them from ever returning. Talking in Parliament, she added that this will “radically narrow” the number of “challenges and appeals.” Those who are under the age of 18, unfit to fly, or are at “real risk of serious and irreversible harm” in the country they would be removed to will be able to delay their deportation.
The Home Office, Ms. Braverman said, is “confident that this bill is compatible with international obligations,” suggesting Mr. Sunak’s administration has no plans to leave the ECHR. Critics, reports The Guardian, “including former Tory ministers, Labour and refugee charities have warned the proposals are unworkable and will leave thousands of people in limbo by banning them from ever claiming British citizenship again.”
More, however, has been made of the fact this is far from the first time Tory leaders have promised to clamp down on illegal immigration. Labour’s immigration official Yvette Cooper said the bill felt like “groundhog day” given its author’s constant rhetoric on border control. (Journalist Patrick O’Flynn responded that Labour would do no better given the party “doesn’t actually want the UK to have robust borders.”)
Ben Harris-Quinney, chairman of the Bow Group, Britain’s oldest conservative think tank, said the bill represents another “con” from the Conservative Party, which is intent only on securing votes. He told The European Conservative:
Over 13 years ago the Conservative Party pledged to reduce immigration to the tens of thousands, and end illegal immigration. As is often the case, rhetoric on immigration policy is radically different from the data. 13 years later we have 1.2 million legal migrants, 40-80,000 predicted to be coming on small boats, and the vast majority of illegal migrants flying in on tourist visas and disappearing. The total number of immigrants coming into this country each year is likely to be between 1.5 and 2 million. Far higher than under the last Labour government, or any government in history.
The Conservative Party’s cunning ruse to paper over their unforgivable failure on immigration has been to intermittently announce a radical sounding immigration policy (that still falls well short of their election pledge) [in] hope the mainstream press will attack them for being “far-right,” and therefore appear to be doing something.
Fulfilling their pledge on immigration is the only thing that could win the Conservatives the next election. I have no doubt however they’ll opt for another con, and lose deservedly.
The European Conservative also contacted the UK Home Office for comment but did not receive a response.