November 22, 2021

Home Secretary: Statement on
Channel Crossings


Mr Speaker,

The number of people coming into our country illegally on small boats is unacceptable.

It is the result of a global migration crisis.

Just last week I met with my US counterparts in Washington D.C. who are grappling with similar diplomatic, legal, legislative and operational issues.

And I fear we would be in a much worse position if it was not for the work already untaken by this Government. We have:

  • Ensured the National Crime Agency has the resourcing it needs to tackle go after the people smuggling gangs, resulting in 94 ongoing investigations, 46 arrests and 8 convictions;

  • Reached two new deals with France, putting more police officers on French beaches and introducing new groundbreaking technology to better detect migrants;

  • Set up a new joint intelligence cell with France to target migrant interceptions on French beaches;

  • Introduced new and tougher criminal offences for those attempting to enter the UK illegally;

  • Laid statutory instruments to stop asylum claims being made at sea;

  • Agreed returns deals with India and Albania to take more foreign national offenders and failed asylum seekers back – with more returns deals imminent;

All these measures form part of My New Plan for Immigration, which I launched in February of this year.

The remaining components of that Plan are currently making their way through Parliament in the Nationality and Borders Bill and I look forward to it receiving Royal Assent as soon as is practicable.

The Bill will introduce a range of new measures, including, but not limited to:

  • A one stop appeals process;

  •  The ability for asylum claims to be heard offshore in a third country;

  • The ability to declare those who arrive in the UK, having passed through safe countries where they could have claimed asylum, inadmissible to our system, meaning no recourse to public funds and limited family reunion rights;

  • Visa penalties for countries refusing to take back their nationals;

  • Quicker returns of foreign national offenders; and

  • New age verification to prevent adult asylum seekers posing as children.

Mr Speaker, if any honourable or right honourable members have concrete proposals not already featuring in my New Plan for Immigration, I would be happy to meet to discuss them.

My door is always open.

Especially to those from the benches opposite…

…because of course, they attack my Plan.

Not because they are genuinely frustrated at the number of illegal migrants entering our country like those on this side of the House.

But because they want open borders. They always have and they always will.

That is why they have voted against my Plan to tackle crossings, with Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary describing it as ‘unconscionable’.

He opposes the development of operational solutions to turn the boats around.

He even refuses to say if his ambition is to reduce the number of illegal migrants coming. Can he do say today?

Mr Speaker, those on this side of the House will continue confronting the difficult issue of illegal migration, no matter how controversial or complex others may deem it to be.

And we will greet it with the same grit and determination we have our country’s other challenges – from leaving the European Union to delivering a new points-based immigration system.

But let me reiterate again, it will take time.

Because the only solution to this problem is wholesale reform of our asylum system, which my New Plan for Immigration will deliver.

I would urge all members to make their support for it explicit today.

I commend this statement to the House.