Fresh Tory row as Tom Tugendhat forced to defend migrant plans

Tom Tugendhat defends Illegal Migration Bill

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Tom Tugendhat today defended the Government’s asylum system reforms after they were torn apart by Theresa May. Last night, the former PM warned modern slavery victims will be “collateral damage” and insisted anybody who believes the new proposals will deal with “illegal migration once and for all is wrong”.

But security minister Mr Tugendhat this morning defended the Illegal Migration Bill, which is designed to stop people claiming asylum in the UK if they arrive through unauthorised means.

Asked on Sky News if the Government should listen to Mrs May, he said: “I always listen to Theresa May. I think she’s a fantastically important colleague and she’s a good friend so I do listen carefully to her.

“One of the things I’ve been watching in recent years is that this is a challenge that we’re all facing in different ways.

“It’s an exploitation of some of the world’s most vulnerable leading to a level of cruelty that is almost impossible to imagine.

“We very often focus on that last element, that 20 miles between France and the UK that people are trying to cross.

“Actually this is a trade that is crossings, not just France and Italy but many parts of north Africa, leaving thousands dead in the Sahara, thousands dead in the Mediterranean. This human trafficking is costing a terrible price.”

Pressed on if Mrs May is right that the Government’s plan will not protect people from modern slavery, Mr Tugendhat added: “What’s absolutely clear is that every government has a responsibility to fight this appalling crime of human trafficking.

“Every government also has a responsibility to do what it can to end modern slavery.

“The first thing we can do to end modern slavery is to separate those enslaved people from their captors.

“That is exactly what this government is trying to do. There are huge challenges, no question these are very difficult things to do.

“But the first thing we’ve got to do is stop this appalling exploitation of some of the world’s most vulnerable people.”

Former home secretary Mrs May picked apart parts of the Bill during a speech in the Commons on Monday night.

She said: “But what should be clear from this is whenever you close a route, the migrants and the people smugglers find another way, and anybody who thinks that this Bill will deal with the issue of illegal migration once and for all is wrong.

“Not least because a significant number, if not the majority, of people who are here illegally, don’t come on small boats, they come legally and overstay their visas.”

Mrs May said she is expecting to hold further talks with Downing Street to resolve issues with the Bill.

She added: “I hope we can find some resolution. But as it currently stands we are shutting the door on victims while being trafficked into slavery here in the UK.

“If they come here illegally they will not be supported to escape their slavery.”

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