Major win for Rishi Sunak as illegal migrant bill passed

Robert Jenrick defends Illegal Migration Bill

Tough new powers to stop the small boats crisis cleared the Commons after Rishi Sunak saw off rebels on both wings of the party.

The Illegal Migration Bill will allow migrants entering the UK illegally to be swiftly returned to their home country or for processing in Rwanda.

Ministers headed off a potential revolt on the right of the party by including measures allowing the Government to ignore interim rulings by European judges that block deportation flights.

Pledges were also made to Tory moderates on the introduction of safe and legal routes for refugees.

But the Bill faces a rocky passage through the House of Lords where peers are expected to try and block some of the toughest parts of the legislation.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman said people arriving in the UK in small boats have values which are “at odds with our country” and “heightened levels of criminality”.

She said: “I think that uncontrolled and unprecedented levels of illegal migration are totally unacceptable to our country and to our values.

“I think that the people coming here illegally do possess values which are at odds with our country.

“We are seeing heightened levels of criminality when related to the people who’ve come on boats related to drug dealing, exploitation, prostitution.

“There are real challenges which go beyond the migration issue of people coming here illegally. We need to ensure that we bring an end to the boat crossings.”

Ms Braverman accused the European Court of Human Rights of “undermining a democratically-elected government” after her plan to deport migrants to Rwanda was blocked last year.

She added: “If you look at Australia – once they were able to swiftly detain and remove people from Australian territory, their numbers of illegal arrivals fell dramatically in a relatively short period of time. That’s why deterrence is a key ingredient.

“It is an uncapped scheme so we are not putting a limit on the number of people who can be relocated to Rwanda.

“We saw last year an unacceptable situation whereby the Home Secretary made a decision to relocate people to Rwanda and that decision was upheld in the courts, injunctions were refused by the English courts and, at the 11th hour, pursuant to an opaque process in which the UK was not represented, a judge in Strasbourg overruled that decision, undermining a democratically-elected government and a decision to take appropriate action.

“We want to avoid a re-run of that scenario. That’s why we have included measures in our Bill to afford the Home Secretary a discretion to consider the case upon its particular merits and circumstances.”

During the debate, immigration minister Robert Jenrick defended the Bill, which has been at the centre of controversy.

He told MPs in the Commons: “The only way to stop the boats is to sever once and for all the link between crossing the Channel illegally and being able to live and work in the UK, and that at it’s heart is what this Bill does.

“Nothing else will cut it, we have tried it all before. The British people demand that we stop the boats and only the Conservative Party will do so.”

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