Thursday, April 18

Priti Patel accused of misleading parliament over controversial borders bill | Immigration and asylum

Priti Patel is under pressure to apologize after being accused of misleading parliament over a central claim relating to her deeply controversial proposals to change immigration law.

The home secretary told MPs that the widely criticized nationality and borders bill would create new safe and legal routes to the UK for asylum seekers, suggesting that new routes would ensure that people no longer need to risk their lives trying to reach the UK.

During to parliamentary debate Last November – held the day after 27 people drowned in the Channel as they tried to cross from France – Patel assured MPs that the bill “does create safe and legal routes”.

However, the Home Office has now admitted that the proposed legislation, which is due to go back to the House of Commons this week, in fact contains no provision to provide safe government-backed routes for asylum seekers.

A letter dated 5 April from Home Office minister Tom Pursglove to the humanitarian charity MSF UK directly contradicts Patel by stating that safe and legal routes “do not form part of the bill”.

Priti Patel signing the migration agreement with Rwanda this week. Photograph: Eugene Uwimana/EPA

Sophie McCann, advocacy officer at MSF UK, said the contradiction was indicative of the manner in which the government and the home secretary had tried to sell the deeply divisive proposals to reform the asylum system: “This is just the latest instance of this government being either deeply misleading or secretive about the provisions and impact of the bill.”

She added: “Again we see the government’s slippery relationship with the truth when it comes to acknowledging the harm that will be done to vulnerable people seeking safety to the UK.”

Also Read  Nkrumah Bonner defies England to put West Indies in driving seat | England in West Indies 2022

A failure to provide safe and legal routes to the UK has led to large numbers of asylum seekers risking their lives crossing the Channel in small boats, a scenario that led to last November’s tragedy, in which a pregnant women and three children were among the dead .

So far this year, more than 5,000 people have made the dangerous journey across the Channel on small boats, three times as many as this time last year.

Even so, the Home Office has attempted to give the impression that the proposed legislation offers safe routes: a “fact sheet” it released last December was titled: “Nationality and borders bill: safe and legal routes”.

Although the government has provided some legal routes to asylum, such as the Afghan citizens resettlement scheme, experts say they are inadequate. They point out, for instance, that this would not protect an Afghan asylum seeker who reached the UK by small boat.

McCann said: “There are almost no safe ways for someone fleeing war, persecution or poverty to travel to the UK. Instead of helping those most in need, the nationality and borders bill will increase people’s risk of dying trying to get here.”

The bill itself, however, is in trouble after being torn apart for a second time by the House of Lords, which recently inflicted 10 defeats on the government over its immigration proposals.

A man carrying his small child
A man and his child come ashore in Dover. MSF says there are no safe ways for refugees to travel to the UK. Photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Until both the Commons and Lords can agree on the final wording of the bill, it cannot pass into law; the bill will be back before the Commons this week.

Also Read  Ukraine Airbnbs receive bookings in effort to get money to residents | airbnb

But with the current parliamentary session expected to end within weeks, ministers may be forced to make concessions if they are to ease the bill through an increasingly tight legislative logjam.

McCann said: “Even at this late stage, we are urging the Home Office to reconsider: they must drop the inhumane policies in the borders bill and commit to providing safe and legal routes for all people fleeing war and persecution.

Make no mistake, this government knows quite well what the impact of this policy will be – it is knowingly and willingly subjecting refugees to horrific suffering.” The Home Office has already admitted that Ukrainians fleeing the war in their country who arrive in the UK illegally would risk jail under the terms of the bill.

When to explain Patel’s assertion that safe and legal routes were included in the bill, the Home Office asked its “new plan for immigration” would strengthen existing routes for refugees, “so they don’t have to put their lives in the hands of people smugglers”.

A spokesperson added: “The home secretary was referring to this, and to suggest she misled parliament is wrong. We will continue to provide refuge to those in need of fleeing persecution through our global UK resettlement scheme.

“Additionally, we will enable more refugees to enter the UK through community sponsorship.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *