Although the new Nationality and Borders bill is a serious attempt to block illegal immigration, the UK will always seem an attractive proposition for those seeking a better, safer life. With the recent increase in small boats crossing the Channel and breaking all records for the number of people arriving in any one day there is concern that this will increase even further with the fear that many Afghans who have been left behind after the recent evacuations will endeavour to make this dangerous crossing.
Minsters should now be able to deliver on their promise to take back control, post Brexit, but this still does not appear to be the case. The government response to this issue is being led by Home Secretary, Priti Patel whose response is that the Nationality and Borders Bill is currently in committee stage in the House of Commons. However, many feel that this will not solve the problems, many of which are caused beyond Britain’s borders.
One particular area of concern is the Mediterranean where people flee from countries such as Tunisia, and they are often aided by people smugglers, acting with impunity and not at all worried about any consequences.
Chair of the foreign affairs select committee, Tom Tugendhat, feels that the answer is to send more Royal Navy vessels to help in the Mediterranean, and says: “Our great strength that we have with NATO allies is that our border doesn’t start at Dover, it starts at the southern tip of Italy and Greece, working together and making sure these borders are defended and reinforced is what we should be doing, but there is need for us to do more.
The Nationality and Borders bill tightens the penalties for people smugglers in an attempt to tackle the problem, but a further issue comes when migrants try and cross the Channel to Britain and while French authorities stop anyone still on land who look like they are to attempt this crossing, they do not stop boats once they are in the water, even when under French control. They blame international law, although many in Britain including MPs on the home affairs select committee claim the French are interpreting this wrongly.
Tory member of the home affairs select committee, Tim Loughton, said the French interpretation was ‘completely wrong’, further saying that “We have evidence from maritime international lawyers, that they made it clear that French authorities have power to intercept and repatriate passengers on boats, but actually have an obligation under international law – people on boats guilty of trying to enter the UK illegally and paying organised crime to facilitate that journey, that would give grounds to French authorities to apprehend people, that is only what is going to stop that horrendous trade, people paying money to people smugglers, highly likely in them being taken back, that could stop this miserable trade”.
The Nationality and Borders bill will mark a serious attempt to block illegal immigration, alongside the new post Brexit points based entry system. It will make it easier to return some illegal asylum seekers more quickly, make some asylum seekers apply before they reach UK shores and give border officials powers to turn back boats in UK waters.
However, this still does not and cannot stop Britain from being an attractive country for economic migrants and asylum seekers.
Chairman of Migration Watch, Alp Mehmet, said that Britain would remain a country many aspire to live in so more had to be done to turn back illegal arrivals. “Britain is an attractive country, so is France and the US. Most people want to go to the US first, we are part of a wider picture of prosperous civilised fun countries”.
“A lot of those coming are young men who want a better life, we are part of that storey, in a way we have to create the opportunity for a lot of Afghans to want to come here”.
He went on to say: “once here, many are treated generously and with little chance of being sent back”. “One of the main reasons why the traffickers are able to sell Britain as the destination of choice is that having arrived here there is very little chance of being sent back, very few people who apply for asylum and fail are actually sent back”.
“Once you are in the system you are looked after – people see messages coming across, it is made to appear very attractive”.