Sunak set to introduce breakthrough law to detain migrants

Rishi Sunak is set to pass legislation that will permit the mass detention of thousands of asylum seekers who travel to the UK in small boats. The Prime Minister and home secretary Suella Braverman will announce next week plans to make all asylum claims from those who come to the UK on small boats inadmissible. Migrants will be barred from claiming asylum while in the UK and once removed they will be “permanently” banned from returning.

Mr Sunak and the home secretary are seeking to stem the flow of migrants risking their lives to cross the English Channel and claim asylum. 

Ms Braverman will remove “as soon as reasonably practicable” anyone who has come to the UK on small boats to Rwanda or another “safe third country”.

The current deal with Rwanda has been tied up in legal issues and Mr Sunak is hoping to ensure this new plan is “legally watertight”. 

At present, asylum seekers have the right to remain in the country to have their case heard.

The government, however, is likely to face significant legal and practical obstacles on the issue again. 

There are concerns that it will be in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The Refugee Council has estimated that detaining the 65,000 people projected to cross the Channel this year would cost £219 million.

And there are uncertainties regarding how those migrants will be housed once they arrive in the UK.

Ministers are currently looking at disused military sites, according to reports. 

But many of those sites remain in a state of disrepair and would need renovation to ensure that they are fit for human habitation.

A limit on how long migrants can be detained before being removed will also need to be fleshed out. 

Officials are looking at holding them for 28 days under the plans. Ministers have also been weighing up radical plans to bar migrants from resorting to judicial reviews to stay in the UK.

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The PM is reportedly resisting suggestions that Britain should leave the European Convention on Human Rights despite consistent blocks by the EU on his plans to stop migrants crossing the Channel. 

He is said to want to ensure that the plans are as “legally watertight” as possible, and ministers hope the legislation can be pushed through parliament by September.

Sunak has made his pledge to “stop the boats” one of his five priorities amid anger at the government’s failure to tackle the issue. 

A record 45,756 migrants crossed the Channel last year, a 60 per cent rise from 2021.

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