UK Home Secretary, Priti Patel, has blasted Labour and accused them of ‘siding with people traffickers’ after they blocked new UK immigration laws. Patel warned that Labour’s actions could lead to hundreds more people suffering, or drowning, in small boats in the Channel. Patel’s scathing attack comes following the recent death of several migrants in the Channel.
After Patel’s Nationality and Borders Bill failed to be signed into law, the Home Secretary laid the consequences out in a letter to Shadow Home Secretary, Nick Thomas-Symonds. Patel accused Labour of ‘failing to recognise that strengthening the UK border would smash dangerous people and smuggling gangs’.
In the letter, Patel wrote: “Strengthening our borders and protecting people from traffickers would have reinforced Britain’s proud history of providing sanctuary for those facing tyranny, oppression or war.”
Labour’s vote says it all
Angered by Labour’s vote on the Nationality and Borders Bill, the Home Secretary did not hold back in her letter, saying: “Your vote tells your constituents you are prioritising criminality over their justified concerns. I would urge you to reconsider.”
Patel maintained that the Bill would provide greater support for refugees, crack down on modern slavery and make it more difficult for terrorists to enter Britain.
Furthermore, the Bill would have increased the punishment for people smugglers, increasing prison sentences from four years to life. Meanwhile, the Bill would have also made it easier for UK immigration authorities to remove people who enter Britain illegally.
Record Channel crossings
Recently, a record number of migrants (853) made it to British shores in small boats. However, three people perished while attempting the perilous journey.
The Bill had widely been expected to pass and was set to come into force in 2022. The Bill sparked a flurry of migrant crossings as people smugglers faced a race against time to beat the Bill before it was given Royal Assent.
However, in September, the Home Office openly admitted that it’s plan to curb migrant Channel crossings ‘might not work’. According to an equality impact assessment, changes to the UK asylum system would carry ‘significant scope for indirect discrimination and the potential for ‘racial discrimination’.
A document published by the Home Office said: “We acknowledge the potential for indirect discrimination’ associated with the Bill where a particular protected group is put at a disadvantage and that disadvantage is not a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.”
However, a section in the document added that while there is limited potential for direct discrimination on the basis of race/nationality, the Home Office will be ‘relying on the limited exceptions that exist in the 2010 Act, which permit direct discrimination on grounds of race, where that is authorised by a minister or by legislation’.
The Home Office also went on to acknowledge concerns over the lack of ‘safe and legal UK immigration routes’ for people who would otherwise be penalised when crossing the Channel.
The government department stated: “There may be circumstances where someone faces immediate danger in their country of origin but is not eligible for our refugee resettlement programmes.”
Under these circumstances, Priti Patel will reportedly ‘review such cases on the basis of their challenging circumstances and merit the use of discretion to grant individuals entry to the UK’. However, the Home Office did not disclose the mechanism that this would take place through.
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