October 05, 2020
Commenting, Alp Mehmet, Chairman of Migration Watch UK, said:
This is a courageous attempt by the Home Secretary to reform an asylum system that has been abused for too long. It deserves the support of other government departments and Parliament.
Read media coverage of the announcement:
Read extract from the Home Secretary's full speech below.
Priti Patel MP, Secretary of State for the Home Department, speaking today at Conservative Party Virtual Conference
Extract of speech:
We believe everyone should play by the same rules. And those values underpin our approach when it comes to immigration. We made the British public a promise that this Conservative Government would end free movement. And we will. For the first time in decades, the British Government will determine who comes in and out of our country. We will welcome people based on the skills they have to offer and the contribution they can make. Not where they come from. Those seeking to work, study or settle in the UK will need a sponsor and a visa. Our new British points-based immigration system will attract the brightest and best talent to our nation. Like the brilliant and dedicated doctors and nurses now able to use a fast-track visa to come and work in our NHS. And the brightest and best scientists and academics who now benefit from the global talent route into the UK. That is firm. That is fair. It is what the British people have demanded of their government for decades. This Conservative Government is delivering.
Our broken asylum system
And I believe that it is by understanding the British people’s lives and their priorities, that my direction will always be true. Which means addressing the issues that people speak to me about day in day out. And yes – people do speak to me about illegal migration and our asylum system. Illegal migration is - and has always been - a complex issue. It has plagued many Home Secretaries, many political parties and many Governments. For years people have risked their lives to enter our country illegally. Like those crossing the Channel in dangerous small boats. If the solution to stop this was simple and straightforward, then believe me, this issue would have been resolved by now. A fair asylum system should provide safe haven to those fleeing persecution, oppression or tyranny. But, ours doesn’t. Because our asylum system is fundamentally broken. And we have a responsibility to act. Right now, the most vulnerable are stuck in this broken system, with over forty thousand other people. Almost half of these claims take a year or more to reach a decision. Costing UK taxpayers over one billion pounds each year. The highest amount in almost two decades. And because of our broken system, the way people arrive in our country makes no difference to how their claim is treated. Let me give you three examples of how our system has failed. Take the example of a young person from Syria who arrived legally in the UK to work and to contribute to our country. While they were here, the conflict in Syria deteriorated. Making it unsafe to return home when their visa expired. To guarantee their own safety and protection – they had no other option but to claim asylum here. But they had to wait over 17 months for a decision. That isn’t fair. Or, the example of someone who came to our country on a visa - but went on to abuse our values and our laws by committing an abhorrent crime. Having served a spell in prison, they filed repeated legal challenges to stop their deportation, followed by numerous meritless asylum claims so that they could stay in our Country. It took several court hearings at a cost to the taxpayer of tens thousands of pounds before we could finally do the right thing and remove them. That isn’t firm. Or, take the example of someone who enters our country illegally on a small boat. Travelling through multiple safe EU countries. France, Italy, Spain. Shopping around for where they claim asylum. Making that final and extremely dangerous Channel crossing to the United Kingdom, while lining the pockets of despicable international criminal gangs. Our broken system is enabling this international criminal trade. It is disregarding the most vulnerable, elbowing women and children in need to the side. Trampling over the weak. That cannot be right. All while the criminal gangs laugh in the face of the British people. Well, I will not be complicit in that.
FIXING THE SYSTEM
So I will introduce a new system that is firm and fair. Fair and compassionate towards those who need our help. Fair by welcoming people through safe and legal routes. But firm because we will stop the abuse of the system. Firm because we will stop those who come here illegally making endless legal claims to remain in our Country at the expense of the British public. And firm because we will expedite the removal of those who have no legitimate claim for protection. After decades of inaction by successive governments we will address the moral, legal and practical problems with the asylum system. Because what exists now is neither firm nor fair. And I will bring forward legislation to deliver on that commitment next year. I will take every necessary step to fix this broken system. Amounting to the biggest overhaul of our asylum system in decades. But I will be honest with you, this will take time. So as we overhaul the system, I will accelerate our operational response to illegal migration. We will continue to hunt down the criminal gangs who traffic people into our country. I will continue to use the full force of our outstanding National Crime Agency and intelligence agencies to go after them. We will make more immediate returns of those who come here illegally and break our rules, every single week. And we will continue to examine all practical measures to effectively deter illegal migration. And no doubt those who are well-rehearsed in how to play and profit from the broken system will lecture us on their grand theories about human rights. And yet, they seem to care little about the rights of the most vulnerable who are fleeing persecution, oppression and tyranny. What about their right to live their lives securely and free from fear? That is the most fundamental right. And we’ve already heard from the Labour Party. Claiming that that lives will be lost. But lives are already being lost. So do not let them peddle a false narrative that Conservatives do not have a proud history of providing a safe haven to those most in need. From the expulsion of Ugandan Asians from a repressive regime, to proudly resettling more refugees from outside Europe than any other EU country, to supporting campaigners fleeing political persecution in Hong Kong. Under Conservative leadership, the United Kingdom has and always will provide sanctuary when the lights are being switched off on people's liberties. As for those defending the broken system – the traffickers, the do gooders, the leftie lawyers, the Labour Party – they are defending the indefensible. And that is something I will never do. If at times it means being unpopular on Twitter. I will bear it. If at times it means Tony Blair’s spin doctor mocking my accent. So be it. And if at times it means Labour Members of Parliament attempting to silence me because I do not conform to their idea of what an ethnic minority woman should stand for. I will stomach it. Because as Conservatives, we do not measure the depth of our compassion in two hundred and eighty characters on Twitter, but in the actions we take and the choices we make.