The UK government has announced its latest effort in curbing the rising number of people entering the UK illegally. The illegal Migration Bill will give the government more power to remove migrants who cross the channel on small boats. The government claims that the Bill will target criminal people smuggling organisations directly, facing up to 14 years in prison if found guilty.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has said the new measures are “fair for those at home and those who have a legitimate asylum claim.” However, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has described the plans as “unworkable.”
Home Secretary Suella Braverman said that it would push “the boundaries of international law” without breaking it and that the measures were needed to “solve this crisis.” The government seems to believe the issue of migrant crossings matters to voters and will be critical in the next election.
Over 45,000 people entered the UK via Channel crossings last year, according to an analysis from Sky News.
Under the new measures, the Government would have the power to detain and remove those arriving illegally back to their home country if possible or a ‘safe third country like Rwanda.’ The government already has a policy aimed at deporting some asylum seekers to Rwanda – but so far, no one has been sent there, and legal challenges are currently holding up any plans to do so.
The Bill may violate the UK’s commitment to international law, particularly the European Convention on Human Rights and the UN’s Refugee Convention.
On the front page of the Bill, the Home Secretary said she was ‘unable to make a statement’ that the content of the Bill is ‘compatible with international law.’
The government is expected to face several serious obstacles in making any proposed measures a reality. Passing the house of commons is just the first step, the Bill will likely face serious scrutiny by the House of Lords and the Courts, potentially blocking sections of the Bill being passed.
Under the new measures, the Home Secretary would have to detain and remove those arriving illegally in the UK to their home country if possible or a ‘safe third country like Rwanda.’ The government already has the policy to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda – but the plan is not operational and has been blocked by legal challenges.
Rishi Sunak said the UK had a “proud history of welcoming those most in need.” The new measures were “fair for those at home and those with a legitimate asylum claim.”
Football pundit Gary Lineker criticised the government plans, taking to Twitter to say, “This is just an immeasurably cruel policy directed at the most vulnerable people in language that is not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the ’30s, and I’m out of order?”
The BBC stated three days later Lineker would be suspended until “we have an agreed and clear position on his use of social media.” igniting a discourse over the impartiality of the BBC.
In solidarity with Lineker, co-hosts Ian Wright, Alan Shearer, and numerous others have announced they will not fill in as hosts on Match of the Day, sparking a meltdown at the BBC. Labour leader Keir Starmer said that the BBC had left itself ‘exposed,’ saying that it is possible the BBC has caved to pressure from within the Conservative party.