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Ministers battle Whitehall ‘Blob’ over Rishi Sunak’s pledge to tackle Channel migrant crisis


Plans to tackle the migrant crisis in the Channel today met opposition from the Whitehall establishment ‘Blob’.

The government is preparing a major immigration bill to fulfill Rishi Sunak’s promise to ‘stop the boats’.

But it has been attacked by senior officials even before the details are revealed.

A former mandarin said it was “highly doubtful” that the proposals would lead to a drop in crossings. Charities also criticized the plans.

The new legislation is expected to strengthen measures that allow asylum applications to be declared ‘inadmissible’.

A group of migrants is being brought to Dover on a Border Force ship today

Migrants were housed at Napier Barracks in Folkestone, Kent on March 6

Migrants were housed at Napier Barracks in Folkestone, Kent on March 6

It is also expected to limit individuals’ ability to use human rights laws to avoid being sent home.

The Mail revealed this morning that the Illegal Migration Bill will include lifelong bans for those arriving via ‘irregular routes’, such as by small boat.

Mr Sunak is expected to speak with French President Emmanuel Macron later today and lay the groundwork for a summit on Friday when the Channel crisis will be at the top of the agenda. He has pledged to detain and quickly remove Channel migrants, nearly 46,000 of whom arrived last year.

However, former Permanent Secretary to the Home Office, Sir David Normington, predicted today that the government’s plan would pose “very serious” problems.

“These are people many of whom are in despair, they have fled persecution and if they are told there has been a change in legislation in the UK Parliament I don’t think it will make a big difference to them,” he said. he told the BBC. The Today program of Radio 4.

And then the government has to do something about it. It says it holds them for 28 days and then releases them.

“But where is it going to hold them, because it doesn’t have the space?

“And where is it going to deport them because it doesn’t have enough deals with countries that are safe?”

Lucy Moreton of the Immigration Services Union also doubted the proposals.

“The plans as they’ve been announced are really quite confusing,” she told the Today programme.

“We cannot send anyone to Rwanda at this time – it is subject to legal challenges. We cannot remove anyone back to Europe because there are no return agreements and we no longer have access to the database that allows us to prove that individuals have applied for asylum in Europe – Eurodac – when we left with Brexit.

“So, unless we have a safe third country that isn’t Rwanda to send people to, this just doesn’t seem possible.”

Ms Moreton, representing immigration officials, said the government’s announcements could ‘stir up’ people-trafficking, with gangs telling would-be migrants to ‘quickly, cross now before anything changes’.

Enver Solomon of the Refugee Council described the plans as ‘flawed’ and added: ‘It is unworkable, costly and will not stop the boats.’

He suggested the proposals would “destroy the UK’s long-standing commitment under the UN convention to give people a fair hearing, whatever path they have taken to reach our shores.”

The government is preparing a major immigration bill to fulfill Rishi Sunak's promise to 'stop the boats'

The government is preparing a major immigration bill to fulfill Rishi Sunak’s promise to ‘stop the boats’

Steve Valdez-Symonds of Amnesty International UK condemned the measures as “disgraceful posturing and scare tactics”.

Downing Street insisted that action was vital to prevent further lives from being lost on the perilous crossing from northern France.

The Prime Minister’s spokesman said: ‘We need people to wait for the actual policy details to be published before giving their opinion.

“We have seen too many lives lost on this dangerous and unnecessary journey, and the number of people entering the country is simply unsustainable.

“As we’ve always said, we recognize that this type of legislation is likely to be challenged in many forms.”

He said Mr Sunak believed there was no need to withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights.

Cabinet Secretary Michelle Donelan said: “This week we will be introducing additional legislation, which is based on the principle that if people are traveling here via illegal routes they should not be allowed to stay, which I think is common sense and right.

“Those boats are not full of people from countries that urgently need help.

“Often they are full of people who are actually economic migrants who have also been exploited by criminal gangs who take their money on a very dangerous journey.”

When asked if the plan was legally viable, Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer replied: ‘I don’t know if it is and I think we have to be very careful about international law here.’

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