Last night, I voted against the Illegal Migration Bill during its Report Stage and Third Reading, in the House of Commons.
Despite Labour’s opposition and signs of rebellion amongst the Tories – including from the former PM Theresa May – the Bill cleared its final stages in the House of Commons by 289 votes to 230.
More broken promises and failure by the Tories
For years now, Tory Ministers have promised that their policies would end channel crossings and speed up the asylum system but instead they have repeatedly made things worse. This Bill is more of the same.
Rishi Sunak has promised that the Bill will detain and remove everyone who arrives on a small boat or without the right papers. But there is nowhere for them to go. There are no proper return agreements in place, and the Bill will make it harder for deals to be made by ignoring international standards such as the ECHR. The Rwanda scheme is unworkable. Instead, under the Tories’ own estimated figures, more than 50,000 people who arrive on small boats this year will go into asylum accommodation and hotels in the UK for the long term, with no decision ever being made on their case. Vulnerable people—including children, pregnant women and torture victims—will effectively be locked up indefinitely, creating yet more chaos in the asylum system and costing the taxpayer billions more. Meanwhile, the bill does nothing to tackle the criminal trafficking gangs that are driving this problem, instead making it harder for victims to testify and to get convictions.
Labour will fix the chaos in the asylum system
Labour believes in strong border security, and in a properly managed asylum system so the UK does our bit alongside other countries to help those fleeing persecution and conflict.
We had tabled amendments to improve the Bill and include provisions that will fix the problems with small boat crossings and address the asylum backlog. Amongst other improvements, our amendments would have set up a route for unaccompanied children to reunite with family and require the Home Secretary to consult local authorities before housing asylum seekers in hotels, barges or military barracks.
Despite making speeches in favour of such measures, none of the Tory MPs voted for our amendments.
The government has let the criminal gangs take hold along the Channel undermining our border security. They’ve caused total chaos in our asylum system so that decisions have collapsed, the backlog has soared and the taxpayer has had to fork out billions of pounds for costly hotel use.
Their latest Bill will only make things worse.