Suella Braverman’s plan to stop the crossings of the English Channel would effectively prevent 45,000 children from obtaining refugee status in the UK, the Observer it’s been said
The claims are made in a forthcoming Refugee Council report looking at the overall impact of the illegal immigration bill, revealing the potential number of children whose asylum claims could be deemed inadmissible under the new laws. The news comes as the Home Secretary is facing a growing rebellion from both wings of the Tory party over her controversial plans to tackle Channel crossings, amid growing concerns about their impact on children and victims of trafficking.
Braverman is visiting Rwanda following a deal to deport asylum seekers to the African country once they arrive in the UK. The plan is on hold after a court challenge.
However, senior Conservatives are already engaged in plans this weekend to review their proposals, which would see asylum seekers arriving on small boats automatically barred from settling in the UK. Former ministers are involved in attempts to reshape the policy, while former Prime Minister Theresa May has already expressed her concern about her impact on victims of human trafficking.
Meanwhile, an attempt is also expected to be made to strengthen the government’s ability to bypass the European court of human rights when dealing with Channel crossings. Some conservatives believe the plans do not go far enough to ignore human rights law and suspect Braverman would like to go further as well.
“They have a problem at both ends of the party,” said a key figure involved in reviewing the plans. “They have a problem with the ultras – people who think the bill needs to go further and specifically do more to exclude the provisions of the Human Rights Law. Frankly, that’s where the Home Secretary is.
“So you have people like me and many others. It is not easy to be beaten in the House of Commons, and at least we can strengthen the hand of the Lords by showing that there are real concerns among MPs. [over these plans].”
Despite the rebellions, Braverman is resisting any amendments to his illegal immigration bill, which the Home Office is trying to sign into law. Insiders said that attempts to add protections for children and families, as well as victims of trafficking, could end up creating loopholes that would be exploited by gangs involved in transporting people across the Canal.
The growing concerns of the Conservatives come after a debate in the House of Commons on the proposals last week in which several senior figures, including May, expressed reservations. May, who introduced the Modern Slavery Act in 2015 when she was home secretary, said the Home Office “knows that genuine victims of modern slavery would be denied support” under the bill.
“As it currently stands, we are closing the door on victims who are being trafficked into [modern] slavery [in] UK,” he said. “Anyone who thinks this bill is going to address illegal migration once and for all is wrong.”
Former ministers Caroline Nokes, Robert Buckland, Stephen Hammond, Priti Patel and Chris Skidmore are among those who are concerned. The bill says refugees arriving in the UK without prior permission will be detained for 28 days and asylum claims will be deemed “inadmissible” regardless of the individual’s circumstances. This includes children.
In the House of Commons, Braverman told MPs that the duty of removal “will not apply to detain and remove unaccompanied child asylum seekers.” However, he remains concerned about the detention of families, as well as the broad powers given to Braverman over the treatment of unaccompanied children. Braverman excluded certain media outlets from his trip to Rwanda, including the guardian and the BBC. He said migrants leaving the country “will act as a powerful deterrent against dangerous and illegal travel.” Braverman will meet with the country’s president, Paul Kagame, and his counterpart Vincent Biruta to discuss the deal. He claimed that Rwanda could host “many thousands” of migrants, though none have yet been resettled.
Ed Davey, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, said the trip was “an expensive distraction from the immoral and unfeasible Braverman bill.” He added: “Suella Braverman is wasting taxpayers’ money to flaunt the Conservative Party’s latest vain project in Rwanda. The Lib Dems will oppose this appalling refugee law, which is nothing more than a criminal traffickers statute.”