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by Louise Wilson
07 March 2023
Home Secretary branded ‘liar’ by Stephen Flynn over refugee claim

Migrants have been frequently rescued by the RNLI after attempting to cross the Channel in small boats

Home Secretary branded ‘liar’ by Stephen Flynn over refugee claim

The Home Secretary has been branded a “liar” by the SNP’s Stephen Flynn over her claims about refugees.

It comes as the UK Government introduces new legislation to crack down on so-called small boat crossings across the Channel.

The SNP has pledged to fight the proposed new law “every step of the way”.

More than 45,000 people made the journey in 2022, a 60 per cent increase on the number of crossings the year before.

The Illegal Migration Bill has been met with criticism from human rights groups and lawyers, while Suella Braverman has admitted it will “push the boundaries of international law”.

Rishi Sunak told The Sun that the new laws would end people trafficking across the Channel “once and for all”.

The bill will curtail the rights of asylum seekers if they did not arrive in the UK via a safe or legal route.

New arrivals will be removed to a ‘third’ country and banned from ever returning or claiming citizenship.

It will also enable the detention of illegal migrants without bail or judicial review within the first 28 days of detention until they can be removed, and sets out a duty on the home secretary to remove illegal entrants.

It will aim to limit the ability of asylum seekers attempting to prevent deportation by relying on human rights laws.

The government’s controversial Rwanda asylum scheme has not so far deported any asylum seekers due to clashes with human rights laws. In 2022, a last-minute legal challenge prevented the first plane leaving the UK to deport migrants to Rwanda under the home secretary’s new scheme.

Braverman gave a statement to the Commons, where she said the bill will allow the government to “stop the boats”.

“It will allow us to stop the boats that are bringing tens of thousands to our shores in flagrant breach of both our laws and the will of the British people,” she said.

She also claimed there are millions of people across the world who would qualify for refugee status under the UK’s current laws.

Flynn, who has been the SNP’s Westminster leader since December, tweeted in response: “The Home Secretary is a liar.”

And MP Stuart McDonald, responding in the Commons as the party’s spokesman on home affairs, committed to opposing the bill “every step of the way”.

He added: “Despite the dreary, dog-whistle rhetoric, her bill will not so much as lay a solitary finger on people smugglers or people traffickers. But it will cause serious and devastating harm on people who have already endured incredible suffering.”

He also warned the UK’s reputation as a place of sanctuary would be “trashed” by this legislation.

Braverman insisted the new system would bring in “fairness and compassion,” adding that Scotland took in the “lowest number” of asylum seekers in the UK.

The bill will apply to those illegally crossing the Channel in small boats, except for children and the “gravely ill” who would remain in Britain while cases are considered.

Migrants would only be able to prevent their removal in “exceptional circumstances”, such as on asylum, human rights or modern slavery grounds.

It will be applied from Tuesday 7 March, with all cases backdated to this date, despite the bill being expected to take months to pass through parliament.

A number of human rights groups and charities oppose the plans, and some lawyers have questioned how the bill can act lawfully, with Labour leader Keir Starmer describing the plans as “unworkable”.

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