Our community in Wycombe is a shining example in our country of the benefits that can be gained when people bring their passions and talents to our country from overseas. It is a source of great personal pride to represent a place as strong in its genuine diversity and unity as Wycombe.
Amongst other things, local people are united by their humanity and respect for the law. Ministers have made clear they will stop the illegal crossings of the English Channel that put so many lives at risk and prosper criminal gangs. For too long, organised human trafficking rings have been tragically imperilling lives at sea, making great profits by sending people across dangerous waters in often terribly unseaworthy vessels. Not only that, illegal crossings on small boats disadvantage those who wish to enter the UK legally, and at great cost to the taxpayer too.
For these reasons, the Prime Minister pledged that he would stop the boats when he entered office last October. Since then, the Government has made progress in this area. With crossings down by a third, the initial asylum backlog down from 92,000 to less than 20,000, over 20,000 removals this year, and the cessation of using hotels as temporary accommodation for those who cross illegally.
But the Prime Minister is clear that we must go further. To ensure no more lives will be lost during boat crossings, and that those who play by the rules are given the chance to come to our country, there must be a strong deterrent.
As the Government’s deal with Albania shows, deterrence works: Albanian arrivals are down by more than 90 per cent this year. Only by removing the prospect that illegal migrants can settle in the UK can we disincentivise people from putting money in the pockets of human traffickers and putting their lives at risk.
Therefore, this week, the Prime Minister announced that he will introduce emergency legislation, supported by a legally binding treaty, backed up by evidence that Rwanda is safe, to respond to the Supreme Court’s concerns. The legislation will make clear that:
- Parliament confirms Rwanda is safe, notwithstanding any other interpretation of international law by a court or tribunal, preventing the courts from second guessing Parliament’s assessment.
- Parliament is sovereign and the validity of any Act of Parliament is unaffected by international law.
- Sections of the Human Rights Act (sections 2, 3 and 6-9) previously used to block removals will be disapplied from the key parts of the Bill.
- Ministers alone decide whether to comply with Rule 39 interim measures from Strasbourg, or not.
The legislation also confirms that the only way to challenge removal to Rwanda after arriving in the UK illegally is to provide compelling evidence of real and imminent risk of serious and irreversible harm, above and beyond the safety of Rwanda.
That risk cannot be based on the fact that Rwanda might send them on to an unsafe country. People will not be able to further delay flights by bringing systematic challenges in our domestic courts and their route to individual challenge will be exceptionally narrow.
The Prime Minister has also been clear that he will not allow a foreign court to block this policy. If the Strasbourg Court chooses to intervene against the express wishes of Parliament, the Government is prepared to do whatever is necessary to get flights off the ground.
The United Kingdom has a proud history of supporting those in need of our protection. From Syria to Afghanistan, Ukraine to Hong Kong, our resettlement programmes have provided safe and legal routes to better futures for hundreds of thousands of people across the globe. For too long, human traffickers have profited from compounding suffering, risking lives with fatal consequences, and disadvantaging those who attempt to come to the UK through safe and legal channels.
The Government will do whatever it takes to tackle Channel crossings. When people know that if they come here illegally, they will not be allowed to stay – they will stop coming, and we will stop the boats.