TORY LEADERSHIP: TRUSS AND SUNAK PROMISE
CRACKDOWN ON MIGRATION
24 JULY 2022
Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak have vowed to toughen controls on migration into the UK as part of their bids to become next Tory leader and prime minister.
Mr Sunak said he would tighten the definition of who qualifies for asylum and introduce a cap on refugee numbers.
Ms Truss said she would extend the UK’s Rwanda asylum plan and increase the number of Border Force staff.
More than 14,000 migrants have crossed the Channel to the UK on small boats so far this year.
In an attempt to deter the crossings, in April the government announced it would send some asylum seekers deemed to have entered the UK illegally to Rwanda to claim refuge there.
However, no asylum seekers have been sent to the east-African country yet following a series of legal challenges.
The UK stands to lose the £120m it has paid to Rwanda if the plan is ruled unlawful by the courts at an upcoming hearing.
Both leadership hopefuls said they would explore similar deals with other countries.
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss told the Mail on Sunday the Rwanda policy was the right approach and that she was determined to “see it through to full implementation”.
Ms Truss also said that if she became Tory Party leader and prime minister, she would increase Border Force staffing from 9,000 to 10,800.
She has also promised a strengthened UK bill of rights, adding: “I’m determined to end the appalling people trafficking we’re seeing.”
Former chancellor Mr Sunak has also pledged to do “whatever it takes” to make the Rwanda scheme work and described the UK’s migration policy as “broken” and “chaotic”.
His plans would see the UK re-assessing aid, trade terms and visa options on the basis of a country’s willingness to co-operate with the return of failed asylum seekers and offenders.
He has also promised to give Parliament control over how many come to the UK by creating an annual cap on the number of refugees accepted each year, though this could be changed in the case of emergencies.
And he said he would introduce “enhanced powers” to detain, tag and monitor those entering the UK illegally.
He said: “Right now the system is chaotic, with law-abiding citizens seeing boats full of illegal immigrants coming from the safe country of France with our sailors and coastguards seemingly powerless to stop them.”
But shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper criticised the pair’s proposals, saying they were wasting taxpayers’ money on the Rwanda scheme.
She said: “The Conservatives have been in power for 12 years. It beggars belief that they claim to be the ones to sort things out when they have both failed for so long.”
Last month, 47 people were told they would be flown to Rwanda, with a flight booked for 14 June. But after a series of legal challenges the flight was cancelled.
Another flight has not yet been scheduled.
Earlier this week, a Commons select committee cast doubt on the effectiveness of the scheme, saying there was “no clear evidence” it would stop risky Channel crossings.
On Saturday, the two candidates clashed over their tax plans.
Ms Truss rejected Mr Sunak’s criticism that it would be wrong to raise government borrowing to fund tax cuts – a major policy difference between the candidates.
She is pledging around £30bn in immediate tax cuts, arguing they will boost growth, while Mr Sunak has said immediate cuts could fuel already-soaring inflation.
Conservative Party members are due to start receiving ballot papers this week and the winner will be announced on 5 September.
Mr Sunak, who quit as part of the government mutiny against Boris Johnson, topped the MPs’ ballots to qualify for the final run-off with Ms Truss. But polls currently suggest the foreign secretary is the favoured candidate of party members, who decide the leader.
It is thought a significant chunk of the 160,000 or so Tory members will vote in the coming weeks.
Hustings will take place throughout July and August, and the two candidates will square off in a live BBC TV debate on Monday, followed by another hosted by The Sun and TalkTV on Tuesday.
WHAT IS THE UK PLAN TO SEND ASYLUM SEEKERS TO RWANDA
AND HOW MANY COULD GO?
UK government plans to send some asylum seekers to Rwanda are being challenged in court.
The government says the measures would reduce numbers crossing the English Channel, but critics question Rwanda’s human rights record.
What is the Rwanda asylum plan?
The five-year trial will see some asylum seekers who arrive in the UK sent to Rwanda on a one-way ticket, to claim asylum there.
They may be granted refugee status to stay in Rwanda. If not, they can apply to settle there on other grounds, or seek asylum in a “safe third country”.
The government says it will deter people arriving in the UK through “illegal, dangerous or unnecessary methods”, such as on small boats which cross the English Channel.
However, the numbers crossing have not fallen since the policy was announced on 14 April. More than 33,500 people have already used this route to come to the UK this year, the highest figure since records began.
What is an asylum seeker?
The UN Refugee Agency defines an asylum seeker as someone who has applied for shelter and protection in another country.
A refugee is a person who has fled conflict or persecution in their own country.
The legal rights of refugees are protected by international law. However, it is up to host countries to decide whether an asylum seeker is granted refugee status.
In the year to June 2022, the UK received 63,089 asylum applications, the highest number for nearly 20 years. Of these, almost 16,000 people and their dependants were granted a form of protection.
How many people could be sent to Rwanda?
The UK government said “anyone entering the UK illegally” after 1 January 2022 could be sent, with no limit on numbers.
Rwanda says it can process 1,000 asylum seekers during the trial period, but has capacity for more.
Under the deal, Rwanda can also ask the UK to take in some of its most vulnerable refugees.
However, no asylum seeker has actually been sent to the country. The first flight was scheduled to go in June, but was cancelled after legal challenges.
Is Rwanda safe for asylum seekers?
The question of its suitability is being considered by the courts.
The UK government insists Rwanda is a “secure country, with a track record of supporting asylum seekers”.
It says asylum seekers sent there would be “provided with suitable accommodation and support”.
But charities, campaign groups and lawyers representing asylum seekers say Rwanda is not a safe destination. They argue that the scheme breaks human rights laws.
They told the High Court that Rwanda is an “authoritarian state with extreme levels of surveillance”. They said it was a country which “tortures and murders those it considers to be its opponents”.
Whatever the outcome, it seems likely that the losing side would ask for the the case to be heard by the Court of Appeal.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman said it was her “dream” to have a Rwanda flight depart before Christmas.
How much will the plan cost?
Costs would include flights to Rwanda, food, accommodation, access to translators and legal advice. Removing people from the UK by charter flight cost more than £13,000 per person in 2020.
When the policy was announced, former Home Office Minister Tom Pursglove said there would be a £120m upfront payment to Rwanda, to be followed by further payments as it handled more cases.
He said the cost would be “similar to the amount of money we are spending on this currently”, and that “longer term, by getting this under control, it should help us to save money”.
The UK’s asylum system costs £1.5bn a year. More than £4.7m a day is spent on hotel accommodation for refugees and asylum seekers.
Critics say the daily cost is so high because of the time taken to decide on applications, and a ban on asylum seekers working while waiting for confirmation of their status.
CONSERVATIVE MANIFESTO 2019
Extra funding for the NHS, with 50,000 more nurses and 50 million more GP surgery appointments a year.
20,000 more police and tougher sentencing for criminals.
An Australian-style points-based system to control immigration.
Millions more invested every week in science, schools, apprenticeships and infrastructure while controlling debt.
Reaching Net Zero by 2050 with investment in clean energy solutions and green infrastructure to reduce carbon emissions and pollution.
We will not raise the rate of income tax, VAT or National Insurance.
We Will Put You First
Getting Brexit done. Investing in our public services and infrastructure. Supporting workers and families. Strengthening the Union. Unleashing Britain’s potential.
The Conservatives offer a future in which we get Brexit done, and then move on to focus on our priorities – which are also your priorities.
Because more important than any one commitment in this manifesto is the spirit in which we make them. Our job is to serve you, the people. To deliver on the instruction you gave us in 2016 – to get Brexit done. But then to move on to making the UK an even better country – to investing in the NHS, our schools, our people and our towns.
We will build a Britain in which everyone has the opportunity to make the most of their talents. We will ensure that work will always pay. We will create a fair society, in which everyone always contributes their fair share.
So that together, led by Boris Johnson, we can get Brexit done, and move on to unleash th
HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH
AUSTRALIA: 8 YEARS OF ABUSIVE OFFSHORE
15 JULY 2021
(Sydney) – Other governments should reject Australia’s abusive and costly offshore processing of refugees and asylum seekers, Human Rights Watch said today. July 19, 2021 is the eighth anniversary of the Australian government’s resumption of its offshore processing policy, which has harmed thousands of people.
“Australia’s abusive offshore processing policy has caused immeasurable suffering for thousands of vulnerable asylum seekers,” said Sophie McNeill, Australia researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The cruelty of these camps, in which seven people have committed suicide and children have been terribly traumatized, should not be replicated elsewhere.”
Since July 19, 2013, the Australian government has forcibly transferred more than 3,000 asylum seekers who sought to reach Australia by boat to offshore processing camps in Papua New Guinea and Nauru. Individuals and families with children spent years living in substandard conditions in these centers, where they suffered severe abuse, inhumane treatment, and medical neglect.
Under international law, immigration detention should not be used as punishment, but rather should be an exceptional measure of last resort to carry out a legitimate aim. Adult migrants should be detained for the shortest time necessary. Children should not be placed in immigration detention.
Offshore processing not only inflicts human suffering, but is also costly. It is estimated that offshore processing cost the Australian government A$8.3 billion (US$6.2 billion) between 2014 and 2020. The annual cost of detaining a single asylum seeker in Papua New Guinea or Nauru is A$3.4 million (US$2.5 million).
Refugees and asylum seekers who have been transferred to Australia for medical treatment remain in limbo, with no permanent visas and little support, under threat of being returned to Papua New Guinea or Nauru at any time. At least 169 refugees transferred under the repealed Medevac legislation remain in Australia. Some refugees and asylum seekers are being held in Australia under guard in hotels, in makeshift detention centers referred to as “alternative places of detention.”
“Other countries should learn from these horrors, rather than repeating them,” McNeill said. “The Australian government should accept New Zealand’s repeated offers to take some of the refugees, and work toward ending offshore processing once and for all.”
For selected accounts, please see below.
Thanush Selvarasa, a 31-year-old Tamil asylum seeker from Sri Lanka. He spent eight years in detention, six and a half years offshore, and one and a half years in hotel detention in Australia:
Offshore processing centers destroyed our lives. We are the victims of this cruel policy. Many of our friends lost their lives because of this cruelty. I myself tried to kill myself twice. Human beings have the right to seek safety and protection. This kind of indefinite detention really causes pain. It’s like cutting your neck. It’s so painful, no one should do it again to people. We are the examples from Australia who are affected by this policy. Still, I only have a temporary visa and can’t live. I’m the same human being as anyone, why am I treated like this? I don’t know how to explain this feeling.
Abbas Maghames, a 34-year-old Arab Iranian asylum seeker. He and his family spent six years in offshore detention on Nauru and he currently remains in immigration detention in a hotel in Darwin:
Please. We need to get out from detention. It’s been almost nine years I’ve been in limbo. Everyday I’m suffering. My mental health is getting so worse. This is not a correct solution. Australia doesn’t treat me like a human. It’s not right to treat anyone like this. Every night I have nightmares. We live with stress and depression every single day. We are so suffering. We are so tired.
Loghman Sawari, a 25-year-old Ahwazi refugee who left Iran and came to Australia a few days after the resumption of offshore processing on July 19, 2013. He has spent eight years in detention, six years in Papua New Guinea, and two years in detention in Australia:
It’s very hard when some country accepts you as a refugee, and you’re still locked up. … Before I came [to Australia under Medevac], I was in the ICU, in Papua New Guinea. And I was in the hospital for two to three months, suffering from mental health and physical. And then the minister [for Home Affairs] signed for me to come and get treatment. But since two years I have been in detention I did not receive treatment. … We’re looking for safety, and we’re looking for a safe place to resettle. We need some place to call it home.