News | Published August 11 2020

PM hints at changes to UK asylum laws after Brexit

Prime minister Boris Johnson has said that his government must weigh up changing asylum laws after Brexit to deter migrants from attempting to cross the English Channel, calling it “very, very difficult” to legally return those who make the crossing from France at present.

Over 4,000 people have made the journey across the Channel using small boats over the course of the year so far, and now Conservative MPs are pushing for action to be taken.

Johnson said on Monday that the UK would work in tandem with French authorities to discourage people from attempting the “dangerous” crossing, adding that the government must also explore the “panoply of laws that an illegal immigrant has at his or her disposal that allow them to stay here” if they cross the Channel successfully.

The Home Office has called on the Ministry of Defence to help rectify the situation, with an RAF Atlas transport aircraft now having been deployed help apprehend approaching boats.

The UK Border Force is also considering its options for new measures to help curb the number of crossings.

Meanwhile, 23 Conservative MPs and two peers have wrote to home secretary Priti Patel, calling for “stronger enforcement” efforts to crack down on the recent “surge in illegal immigration”.

They wrote: "It is strikingly clear that, rather than a 'hostile environment', invading migrants have been welcomed”, adding that some had been offered “immediate access to regular payments whilst accommodated at taxpayer expense in expensive hotels.”

The letter added: "All this is relayed to people smugglers and potential economic migrants in France, encouraging and emboldening those intent on facilitating further border crossings."

The UK is still operating under EU asylum law in accordance with the post-Brexit transition period which lapses at the end of the year. A vital part of that law is the Dublin regulation which stipulates that a person’s asylum claim can be transferred to the first member state they entered.

Downing Street has said that beyond December, the UK will look to operate under new asylum rules.

The prime minister’s official spokesman said that the current Dublin regulation rules, which protect asylum seekers and restrict transfers to a set time limit, could be “abused by both migrants and their lawyers to frustrate the returns of those who have no right to be here”.

In their letter to the home secretary, the Conservative MPs and two peers recommended that the UK refuses to agree to any "similar" arrangement to the Dublin regulation after December in its negotiations with the EU.

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Authored by

Alexander Bridge-Wilkinson
Junior Editor
August 11 2020

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