‘Don’t side with criminals’: Priti Patel tells Labour MPs they will be endangering migrants’ lives if they refuse to back her immigration reforms
- Labour MPs will be ‘siding with criminal smugglers’ if they fail to back crucial , Priti Patel warned
- The Home Secretary suggested that would be the result of opposing her Nationality and Borders Bill
- The proposed Bill will crack down on illegal migration by handing fewer privileges to asylum seekers who arrive illegally
Labour MPs will be ‘siding with criminal people smugglers’ if they fail to back crucial immigration reforms, Priti Patel warned last night.
The Home Secretary suggested that opposing her Nationality and Borders Bill, which faces a Commons vote today, could endanger more migrants’ lives during perilous Channel crossings.
The proposed Bill will crack down on illegal migration by handing fewer privileges to asylum seekers who arrive illegally. It will also increase prison penalties for traffickers and people who enter illegally.
In response, Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper said the Bill was a ‘sham’ and was ‘failing’ to tackle the issues.
Labour MPs will be ‘siding with criminal people smugglers’ if they fail to back crucial immigration reforms, Priti Patel warned last night
In a letter to Ms Cooper, the Home Secretary wrote: ‘Labour has a clear choice. They can side with the criminal people smugglers or with the British people.
‘Voting for the Nationality and Borders Bill is standing against the people smuggling gangs, introducing tough life sentences and speeding up the removal of those with no right to be in our country, including foreign national offenders.
‘Labour must choose between supporting our plan to reduce illegal migration and putting the British people’s concerns first or continuing to back open borders.’
The Bill will attempt to slash the so-called ‘pull factors’ which ministers believe attract migrants to the UK.
Its key measures include creating a two-tier asylum system which will hand fewer privileges to those who arrive in Britain by illegal routes – even if their asylum claim is eventually accepted – compared with those who come by legal routes.
It will increase the maximum penalty for illegal entry to the UK from six months’ to four years’ imprisonment, and introduce life sentences for people traffickers.
The Bill has also been strengthened even further with the Government bringing forward changes to increase the maximum penalty for overstaying a visa from six months to four years’ imprisonment.
Miss Patel insists the measures in the proposed laws are ‘firm but fair’.
The Bill also gives Border Force officers controversial new powers to stop and divert vessels carrying migrants.
It also aims to speed up the appeals process by giving asylum seekers only one opportunity to lodge a legal challenge.
The measures come after more than 26,000 migrants have reached Britain since the start of the year, compared with just 8,410 in the whole of 2020.
In the worst tragedy yet seen during the Channel crisis, 27 migrants died off Calais last month when their inflatable boat sank.
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