Richard Ekins: The Government should reject this European Court decision – and press on with those Rwanda migrant flights

16 Jun

Richard Ekins is Head of Policy Exchange’s Judicial Power Project and Professor of Law and Constitutional Government, University of Oxford.

The question of judicial power is now firmly back on the national agenda. The decision of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) to intervene to stop the first flight to Rwanda may well be the greatest crisis in our country’s tortuous relationship with the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) since the prisoner voting saga.

The Strasbourg Court has said that the UK government may not proceed with its Rwanda plan until the UK courts have fully considered the argument that implementation of the plan breaches the ECHR. This intervention comes despite the UK courts – the High Court, Court of Appeal and finally the Supreme Court – concluding that interim relief should not be granted.

The ECtHR has said that the asylum-seeker in question should not be deported until three weeks after the final domestic judicial decision in his own ongoing judicial review proceedings – which presumably means after the Supreme Court’s decision on appeal from the High Court and Court of Appeal.

If the Supreme Court upholds the Government’s policy, an application will no doubt be made to the ECtHR, which will promptly make further “interim measures” restraining deportation until it hears the full application and decides the merits of the case.

In other words, if the Government complies with the ECtHR’s recent decision, the Rwanda policy cannot be put into action for the foreseeable future, which may mean in effect that it is finished. Whatever one thinks about the merits of the policy, no one should accept that the ECtHR is entitled to intervene in this way – at this stage – to undermine the policy by delay.

The radical nature of the ECtHR’s intervention should not be overlooked. While it may seem this way at times, the ECtHR does not strictly hear appeals from our Supreme Court. It hears applications claiming that the UK, or another member state, has breached someone’s Convention rights. It can only hear applications “after all domestic remedies have been exhausted”.

In this case, domestic remedies have not been exhausted. The asylum-seeker’s judicial review proceedings are ongoing, and he may yet persuade the High Court (or the Supreme Court) that the government is acting unlawfully, breaching his ECHR rights and thus the Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA), in which case the government has promised to seek to ensure he returns to the UK.

In a Policy Exchange paper published yesterday, my colleagues and I make clear that the ECtHR had no jurisdiction to make “interim measures” in this context. The claimant cannot make an application to the ECHR alleging breach of his Convention rights because his domestic legal proceedings are ongoing. The ECtHR’s decision about “interim measures” was made despite the Court not having a substantive application properly before it.

The ECtHR’s decision may have been made by a single duty-judge in Strasbourg. The decision was made ex parte, that is, without the UK having an opportunity to be heard. This is unfair, to put it mildly. It is unjust for the ECtHR to attempt to override a decision made in the course of ongoing domestic legal proceedings without hearing from the UK. It is intolerable for the ECtHR to attempt to disable the UK from acting for an indefinite time period on the say-so of one judge who did not hear argument from the UK.

There is no provision for appeal against this decision or for it soon to be revisited. The Strasbourg Court’s decision violates the principle of subsidiarity in the ECHR, which is the idea that national authorities have the primary responsibility for securing Convention rights and that the role of the ECtHR is to support them in due course.

The Government should not accept that the UK is bound by this decision. Rule 39 of the Rules of Court provides that the ECtHR may “indicate to the parties any interim measure which they considers [sic.] should be adopted in the interests of the parties or of the proper conduct of the proceedings.”

This is not the language of binding court orders. However, as in other cases, the ECtHR has simply made up new law, ruling that if a state fails to comply with interim measures, then it also breaches Article 34 of the ECHR, which provides that the Court may receive individual applications and that states should not hinder exercise of this right.

For the reasons given in our Policy Exchange paper yesterday, the UK would be well within its rights to deny that the ECtHR’s recent decision about “interim measures” imposes a legal obligation on the UK.

The ECtHR’s decision itself has no effect in domestic law. The HRA gives effect to the ECHR in our law but does not incorporate Article 34. Unless UK courts were somehow persuaded, late on Tuesday evening, to issue injunctions in reliance on the ECtHR’s decision – which would have been a bad legal mistake on their part – it would have been perfectly lawful, in domestic law, for the government to have gone ahead with the Rwanda flight on Tuesday night notwithstanding the ECtHR’s intervention.

The Government has a strong argument to make that the UK is not bound by the ECtHR’s decision, either because that Court has simply made up its jurisdiction to provide interim relief or, more specific to this case, because it had no proper application before it. The government should not act as if the ECtHR’s decision is binding.

There is a strong case to repeal, or at least sharply amend, the HRA, as I have argued in a number of Policy Exchange papers. However, repealing the HRA would not address the ECtHR’s latest decision, which, as I say, has no effect in our domestic law.

For the same reason, replacing the HRA with “a modern Bill of Rights”, as the government proposes, would make no difference. In any case, human rights law reform should not aim to empower British rather than European judges. It should aim to restate the primacy of Parliament and to stop human rights litigation from undermining parliamentary democracy and the rule of law.

Amending the HRA and limiting the powers of UK courts is an important part of this process. However, if the UK is to remain a party to the ECHR, as the government proposes, it must be willing, in suitable cases, to resist judgments of the ECtHR which clearly depart from the ECHR and threaten vital national interests.

In the present case, the Government should firmly maintain that the UK has no obligation in international law to comply with the ECtHR’s recent decision, which was made without jurisdiction, and that it is free to implement its policy unless a UK court says otherwise. (If a UK court has relied on the ECtHR’s decision, its judgment  should be promptly appealed.)

The Supreme Court might in the end in such circumstances rule against the government on the merits, which is a reason why the government would have been well-advised to accept Policy Exchange’s recommendation in February that any scheme to address the crisis in the Channel should be very clearly mandated by legislation that applied notwithstanding the HRA. Parliament should take responsibility for what should be done, rather than leaving this to be settled by litigation either in London or in Strasbourg.

The post Richard Ekins: The Government should reject this European Court decision – and press on with those Rwanda migrant flights first appeared on Conservative Home.

Stephen Booth: Brexit is a process, not an event. So it’s far too early to judge whether it’s working.

16 Jun

Stephen Booth is Head of the Britain in the World Project at Policy Exchange.

Next week will see another Brexit anniversary as we reach six years since the 2016 referendum. Meanwhile, the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA), which marked the beginning of the UK’s new relationship with the EU has been in place for nearly 18 months. No doubt we will be debating the merits and consequences of Brexit for many years to come, but what can be said at this point?

Much of the Brexit debate has focused on trade and the economy, and the deteriorating economic situation has prompted some commentators to lay the blame squarely at the door of Brexit. However, it is almost impossible to disentangle any Brexit effect from the much larger economic shock resulting from the pandemic, and now the war in Ukraine, which have taken a heavy toll on the global economy.

Due to the volatility caused by these global events, it is difficult to make short-term comparisons across economies. However, according to OECD figures, the UK economy exceeded its pre-pandemic (Quarter Four, 2019) level of GDP for the first time in the first quarter of 2022, by 0.7 per cent. I

By contrast, German and Italian GDP was still below pre-pandemic levels (by 1.0 per cent and 0.4 per cent respectively) in the first quarter of 2022. And while UK inflation is at the high end compared to other economies, the Netherlands and Poland are both experiencing higher levels, illustrating that the UK is not a particular European outlier.

Given the degree of change to the UK’s trading arrangements, it would be a surprise if Brexit had no impact. At the time of the Spring Statement, the Office for Budgetary Responsibility noted that UK trade had not recovered as quickly as other advanced economies and that the trade intensity of the UK economy had fallen as a result. However, looking beyond the headline figures presents a complicated picture, not easily explained by Brexit alone.

The biggest contributors to the UK’s decrease in trade intensity are from a decline in imports of goods and services from the EU, even though the barriers to trade have overwhelmingly been erected on the EU side of the border (the UK has delayed imposing checks on EU goods entering the UK).

Equally, UK exports of goods to the EU have recovered more strongly than UK exports to non-EU countries. The reorientation of supply chains may have played a role in this. However, much of the global demand for goods was generated by US consumers, and the UK is not a major exporter of the products (computers and electrical equipment) that the US imported over this period.

Finally, the UK’s export mix is more dominated by services than its competitors. The pandemic has had far-reaching consequences for trade in services and, paradoxically, again it is imports rather than exports of services to the EU that have seen the biggest falls since the pandemic. This evidence would suggest that greater barriers to exporting to the EU seem to be playing only a limited role in the UK’s disappointing post-pandemic trade performance. This shouldn’t be cause for celebration, but it is important to diagnose the problem properly.

On the question of immigration, which dominated political debate prior to the referendum, it is notable that the UK has remained open to global talent and skills. The tight labour market is primarily to do with older UK workers exiting the market rather than the loss of EU workers, the vast majority of which have been replaced from outside the EU under the UK’s liberalised visa system.

Net migration to the UK was estimated by the Office of National Statistics to be 239,000 in the year ending June 2021 and work-related immigration to the UK has recovered strongly in the wake of the pandemic. There were 277,069 work-related visas granted in the year ending March 2022 (including dependants). This was a 129 per cent increase on the year ending March 2021 and is 50 per cent higher than in the year ending March 2020.

It is also clear that despite continuing high numbers of arrivals, public attitudes on immigration have softened significantly now that the UK is able to devise its own policy without the strictures of EU freedom of movement. According to Ipsos-Mori, the proportion of people wanting to see immigration reduced has fallen from around 65 per cent in 2015 to 42 per cent in 2022. The share saying immigration levels should stay the same or be increased has risen to 50 per cent from around 30 per cent. Those dissatisfied with the Government’s handling of immigration are largely concerned with illegal Channel crossings.

Meanwhile, there was a fear that Brexit would consign the UK to geopolitical irrelevance on the global stage. However, the UK entered into the new AUKUS security partnership with the US and Australia and it has played a leading role in the international effort to support Ukraine.

The crisis with Russia has not united the EU behind a common foreign policy to the exclusion of Britain. As I noted in a previous column, Emmanuel Macron’s drive for EU “strategic autonomy” on foreign and security policy has been severely undermined, probably fatally, by the fact that many in Northern and Eastern Europe have concluded that the US and the UK are more reliable partners in this field than France and Germany.

This is not to suggest that Brexit has been plain sailing or that the UK does not face significant difficulties. Clearly, the row between London and Brussels over the Northern Ireland Protocol has the potential to escalate and fundamentally destabilise the UK-EU relationship yet again. The domestic economic and political challenges of increasing productivity, improving economic performance across the entire country, and reforming public services pre-date Brexit.

Some Brexiteers are impatient for greater divergence from the EU. Some Remainers will continue to see Brexit as the root of every problem. However, Brexit is a process rather than an event and the experience of the past six years should demonstrate that the UK’s decision to leave the EU does not in of and itself mean it is on the road to success or failure.

The post Stephen Booth: Brexit is a process, not an event. So it’s far too early to judge whether it’s working. first appeared on Conservative Home.

Book review: Murray tries and fails to stir up panic about a “war on the West”

27 May

The War on the West: How to Prevail in the Age of Unreason  by Douglas Murray

This author makes, in his introduction, a number of preposterous claims. Here is his opening paragraph:

“In recent years it has become clear that there is a war going on: a war on the West. This is not like earlier wars, where armies clash and victors are declared. It is a cultural war, and it is being waged remorselessly against all the roots of the Western tradition and against everything good that the Western tradition has produced.”

How can Douglas Murray suggest that this “war”, as he terms it, has only “in recent years” become apparent?

At pretty much any time one cares to name in recent centuries, conservatives have feared that tradition is in danger both from barbarian invaders, and from reformers within the gates who wish to sweep away all we have built, and erect a glittering new edifice in which their reign of virtue can begin.

The French Revolutionaries promised this. Various varieties of Communist promised it. In the 1960s, rebellious students and satirists set out to subvert every traditional source of authority.

In order to justify his hysterical tone, Murray goes in search of enemies who today pose a mortal threat. By page four he has found the Communist Party of China, and complains:

“almost nobody speaks of China with an iota of the rage and disgust poured out daily against the West from inside the West.”

That is true, and this reviewer would not wish for one moment to downplay the horrors perpetrated by China. But the same double standard was applied by many in the West to the Soviet Union.

The problem is not new, and working out what to do about it, or how to contain it, is the work of decades, perhaps of centuries.

But Murray’s fiercest argument is with those inside the West who wish to debilitate the West. In 2017, he recalls, he brought out The Strange Death of Europe, in which (as he says in the volume under review) he asked why the Europeans have allowed mass migration, “and why they were expected to abolish themselves in order to survive”.

According to Murray, only Western countries “were told constantly that in order to have any legitimacy at all…they should swiftly and fundamentally alter their demographic makeup”.

That is a gross over-simplification. In pretty much every Western country, there have been big arguments about immigration. In Australia, the United States, Britain, Germany, Italy, pretty much anywhere one cares to name, politicians have come to realise they will only possess legitimacy if they avert unrestricted immigration.

Africans are at this moment suffering in abominable camps in Libya because the European Union has devised ways to stop them crossing the Mediterranean.

A further paradox, untouched on by Murray, is that many British politicians of immigrant descent – one thinks of such figures as Kwasi Kwarteng, Rishi Sunak, Suella Braverman, Priti Patel and Kemi Badenoch – express conservative opinions with wonderful gusto.

If Enoch Powell were still alive, he would perhaps concede that the British nation and British political tradition have proved more adaptable, and durable, than he had feared.

Where does Brexit fit in Murray’s narrative of a war on the West? He ignores that question and is instead indignant that “we have been pushed into racial hyper-awareness”:

“In recent years, I have come to think of racial issues in the West as being like a pendulum that has swung past the point of correction and into overcorrection.”

He continues:

“Racism is not the sole lens through which our societies can be understood, and yet it is increasingly the only lens used. Everything in the past is seen as racist, and so everything in the past is tainted.”

Is this really true, or is the pendulum already swinging back against such a simplistic reading of history? On one of my regular walks I pass a house, on a leafy slope on the Highgate side of Hampstead Heath, in the window of which for some months I was faintly irritated to see a hand-written sign which said “SILENCE IS VIOLENCE”.

The sign has now been taken down. I accept that this does not amount to conclusive proof that the moral panic which swept at hurricane force across Britain as well as America after the murder of George Floyd has blown itself out.

But things have died down a bit. No more statues have been thrown into Bristol harbour. Churchill still stands in Parliament Square, his plinth at present unsullied by accusations that he was a racist.

On page 126 of his book, Murray alludes to a Policy Exchange pamphlet in which Andrew Roberts and Zewditu Gebreyohanes rebutted the slurs cast at Churchill in February 2021 during a panel discussion at Churchill College, Cambridge.

So the pendulum does still swing, and contentions which for a short time have held sway are exposed to criticism, and cease to be quite so fashionable. It turns out to be possible to disapprove in the strongest terms of racism, without supposing it offers a complete interpretation of the past.

Gebreyohanes has just become Director of Restore Trust, an organisation set up, as she explained in a piece for The Times, to return the National Trust to its founding values and objectives.

Murray is in grave need of opponents, and inclined to magnify their importance. Many of those he finds are in the United States. He digs up Noam Chomsky and Naomi Klein, both of whom used to be more influential than they are now, and various other figures who may or may not become influential.

Karl Marx is dug up too, and we are reminded of some of that thinker’s today unacceptable views on race. Murray remarks ruefully that although the bust of Marx in Highgate Cemetery has from time to time been daubed in red paint, there have been “no online petitions or crowd efforts to pull it down and kick it into a nearby river”.

There is actually no river nearby, and to kick this colossal bust anywhere would be a difficult task, liable to end in many stubbed toes.

Marx, however, suffers what is in some ways a greater humiliation. He is ridiculed, or treated as a mere curiosity. If one does not wish to pay to enter the cemetery, one can see him through the railings on the southern edge of Waterlow Park, at a distance which reduces the bust to an acceptable size.

That is how the British public has long been inclined to deal with intellectuals who take themselves too seriously: it peers through the railings and laughs at them.

It seldom occurs to Murray that the best way to deal with fashionable absurdities is to laugh at them, and to trust to the good sense and conservatism of the wider public. Edmund Burke (absent from this book) put the point with genius in his Reflections on the Revolution in France:

“Because half a dozen grasshoppers under a fern make the field ring with their importunate chink, whilst thousands of great cattle, reposed beneath the shadow of the British oak, chew the cud and are silent, pray do not imagine that those who make the noise are the only inhabitants of the field; that, of course, they are many in number; or that, after all, they are other than the little, shrivelled, meagre, hopping, though loud and troublesome, insects of the hour.”

Murray has flattered the loud and troublesome insects of the hour by writing a whole book about them.

Since this ill-titled volume went to press, Vladimir Putin has ordered the invasion of Ukraine. There the true war on the West is being waged. The Ukrainians’ fight for freedom reminds us how trivial most of the pseudo-war recounted in this book really is.

Peter Franklin: Don’t turn the Conservative Party into a cargo cult

23 May

Peter Franklin is an Associate Editor of UnHerd.

In the 1930s and 40s, the US military established military bases across the south Pacific. As a result remote island cultures, with little or no contact with the outside world, suddenly found themselves face-to-face with the might of twentieth century America. Though the islanders were in no position to understand the outsiders’ technology, for a brief moment they were able to share in its benefits. But then something terrible happened: the visitors went away again.

It may be that some of the islanders were happy to see the back of the Americans, but others were desperate for the visitors — and their hitherto unimaginable wealth — to return. Indeed, in some places that longing took on a religious aspect.

So-called cargo cults sprang up in numerous locations. Cult practices sometimes took the form of ritually re-enacting the mysterious things that the visitors got up to — like clearing landing strips in the jungle. In other cases, mock aircraft were created out of local materials and symbols like the Red Cross reproduced as objects of reverence. The hope was that such rites would somehow bring back what had been lost.

Cargo cults might seem ridiculous to us — and in fact the term itself has fallen out of academic favour for that very reason. However, we westerners would be foolish to assume that we’re not susceptible to the same kind of thinking. Instead of working through the challenges that face us in the here-and-now, it is often easier to re-enact scenes from an imagined heyday.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with respecting the past and trying to learn from it. But equally we must be aware that our problems are constantly changing, and the solutions that we apply must change with them.

I’m worried that a discombobulated Conservative Party has forgotten this. Consider, for instance, our response to the return of inflation — and the criticism directed at the Bank of England for not getting on top of it. Clearly, we’ve got a major problem on our hands, but the idea that we can solve it by yanking up interest rates — because that’s what worked before — is pure cargo cultism.

The inflationary monster today is not the same beast that was slain in the 1980s. Nor does its origin lie in the last decade or so of very low interest rates, otherwise it would have shown itself years ago. Rather, the beast was born out of the extraordinary disruption to global supply chains caused by the pandemic and compounded by Putin’s war.

There was a furious reaction when the Governor of the Bank of England, Andrew Bailey, suggested that policymakers were helpless in the face of these inflationary pressures. Bailey could have chosen his words more carefully, but he’s a lot closer to the truth than those who believe that UK interest rates can control global commodity prices.

Other Conservatives see a lack of growth as a bigger problem than rocketing prices. In the long term, they’re probably right — but they’re wrong about the means by which they want to revive the economy: i.e. tax cuts. Again, we see a demand for the ritual re-enactment of policies from the Thatcher era; but the conditions that applied then don’t apply now.

We’re not perpetually on the wrong side of the Laffer Curve. Rather our number one economic problem is the chronic failure of British business to invest in productivity improvements — despite the incentives of lower Corporation Tax, cheap migrant labour and minimal borrowing costs. The Chancellor acknowledged this structural impediment in his Mais Lecture earlier this year, but even he felt the need to appease the tax cut fetishists in his ill-fated Spring Statement.

The ritual re-enactment of past triumphs isn’t limited to economic policy. The Conservative cargo cult is also attempting to resurrect the Right to Buy. To widespread groans, the Government has dusted off a policy to extend the Right so that housing association tenants can buy their homes too.

This is fine in principle, but the offer isn’t attractive without a hefty discount on the market value of the relevant properties— and who is going to pay for that? First proposed in 2015, the Government has already tried, and failed, to make this policy work. There’s no reason to suppose that a second attempt will be any more successful. One has to ask whether a serious effort will be made at all — or whether the announcement was just an excuse to conjure up the past.

However, I don’t want to give the impression that the conservative cargo cult is only about the 1980s. Thatcherite nostalgia is big part of it, but there are more recent triumphs to hark back to — not least, our miraculous escape from the clutches of the EU.

However, the problem with getting Brexit done is that you can’t do it again. Or can you? One fears that the main reason why the government has chosen this moment to unpick the Northern Ireland Protocol is that it needs a Brexity distraction. But if they think they can summon up the spirit of 2019, they’re badly mistaken. Brexit was about getting the EU out of our lives and allowing the UK to forge its own path. That means levelling-up and shaping and economy that works for everyone, not refighting old battles.

That’s why my heart sank when I read about Suella Braverman’s call to bring back the Conservative Party’s torch logo. Digging up this old totem really would be the ultimate cargo cult move. But anyone who thinks that dressing up in Margaret Thatcher’s clothes is going to stop Labour from taking back the Red Wall or the Liberal Democrats from making in-roads down South is deluding themselves.

If the Conservative Party really wants to honour its past, then, like Thatcher, it must fearlessly face-up to and tackle the problems of the present. If that means breaking new ground and attempting the previously impossible, then so be it. After all, our greatest duty to tradition is to take it forward into the future.

Enver Solomon: The Homes for Ukraine scheme is falling short of the noble instincts of the British people

21 Apr

Enver Solomon is Chief Exective of the Refugee Council.

The villagers of North Moreton, near Didcot in Oxfordshire are frustrated and angry. Moved by the horrors of the conflict in Ukraine the residents are eager to welcome refugees to their village.

But delays waiting for the visa applications required under the Homes for Ukraine scheme have left them annoyed and more than disappointed.

One of the residents, Polly Vacher, told the BBC: ‘It’s a disgrace, I’m ashamed to be British for the first time in my 78 years’.

She’s not the only person across the country to feel that way. National and local newspapers and broadcasters have been contacted by numerous Britons angry and anguished by the fact that they want to welcome Ukrainians into their homes but delays and bureaucracy are standing in their way.

Soon after Michael Gove launched the scheme last month tens of thousands of people immediately stepped forward offering to throw open their homes to welcome Ukrainians, mainly women and children whose lives have been shattered by the war.

To date some 200,000 want to host Ukrainians and many more are wanting to provide help to them.

It’s an ambitious and bold programme that could see the nation provide sanctuary to refugees on an unprecedented scale. And the Government should be congratulated for making it uncapped. But nearly a month after it was launched things don’t appear to be going so smoothly.

For the scheme to be a success there are four key elements (the four S’s) required: speed, safety, support and sustainability.

Firstly speed is obviously important. Four and a half million people have fled Ukraine, the largest movement of refugees in Europe for a generation.

The neighbouring countries – Poland, Romania, Hungary are Moldova – are having to cope with a massive influx of people. Women and children are having to fend for themselves with stories of them sleeping rough desperate to find a home and start to find a way to put their lives back together.

A humanitarian crisis of this scale demands a quick response. We should be providing a rapid safe passage to the UK for those who want to come here. The EU has waived visas and countries such as Ireland, France and Spain have already welcomed tens of thousands of refugees.

Less than 2,000 have arrived in the UK on the Homes for Ukraine scheme. The Government should waive visas as an immediate short term measure and look to introduced a simplified emergency humanitarian visa process.

Instead it is insisting on a complex and extremely bureaucratic visa application process. Such managed migration systems are intended to regulate and control the flow of people into countries during normal stable times. They aren’t designed to be used in response to a refugee crisis on the scale that Europe is facing.

Not surprisingly, the system is failing. There are long delays, battles with complex paperwork requirements and a slow response from a visa system that isn’t able to respond at pace or with urgency.

Ensuring safety to vulnerable women and children traumatised by having to flee their homeland is, of course, paramount. The Government knows this and has put in place checks that require anybody who wants to sponsor a Ukrainian to be subject to not only a Police National Computer check but also a DBS application, which is required for anybody working with children or vulnerable adults.

These checks can never be foolproof and hosts could welcome Ukrainians into their homes before they are completed. So risks, will inevitably remain. But important steps are in place.

The challenge, however, is a matching process that has bloomed entirely as a DIY format and is inevitably at risk of being exploited by those who seek to harm, exploit, and prey upon vulnerable Ukrainian women and children. A Times newspaper investigation has already exposed men making sexual advances online.

The Government knows this is a serious risk and is now seeking to put in place some kind of accreditation system for matching sites so people can be directed to those it is formally sanctioning. It’s unclear, though, if this will be too little too late. Hopefully it won’t.

Support to refugees and hosts is also vital. People arriving will be disorientated, without cash or a bank account – all the basics we take for granted in our daily lives. Enabling them to quickly settle and get the requisite documentation they need to function is no easy task.

Councils have been provided with funding so they can put in place what is being called wrap around support. It’s vital this is actually provided as supporting refugees to settle and rebuild their lives is so important for their well being and their overall mental health.

It requires input from agencies who have a track record in this work and can’t be left to hosts, however, committed they are.

Sponsoring a refugee can be a rewarding experience and a huge commitment. While it’s heart warming that so many people have signed up to help those from Ukraine, we should be realistic about the challenges involved on both sides in making this arrangement a success.

The relationship between a host and a refugee comes with risks and responsibilities. Inevitably, things may not always work out. That’s why it’s so important that hosts and refugees are provided with the right training and specialist support to make a success of this potentially challenging on-going relationship.

Professionals need to be on hand to provide them with the advice and help needed, including therapy, access to services, and support with integration – and to step in on the occasions when this arrangement doesn’t work out.

Avoiding sponsorship breakdowns is obviously important to the sustainability of the scheme, but equally important is putting in place a route for people to move into independence with their own home and job. The DWP has a critical role to play in ensuring a quick and seamless move onto universal credit and assistance with employment advice.

Regional housing taskforces, made up of the key agencies, should also be formed to ensure accommodation barriers are addressed that already exist due to the pressured housing stock.

Britain could and should be welcoming refugees at a scale and pace not seen before. The public seem to be ready to do this. But the biggest failing at present is the barrier created by the visa programme.

Paperwork is being put before people. Control above compassion. And bureaucracy ahead of agility.

The Government needs to recognise this and change the system. At the same time it must continue to work with councils, other agencies and civil society to form a well resourced partnership that makes the Homes for Ukraine programme a real success.

If it fails the anger and frustration of the residents of North Moreton will only get worse, and the Government is likely to lose support.

Robert Halfon: Our Party’s track record on refugees is one to be proud of

20 Apr

Robert Halfon is MP for Harlow, a former Conservative Party Deputy Chairman, Chair of the Education Select Committee and President of Conservative Workers and Trade Unionists.

Britain and Conservative Governments should be proud of their record on refugees.

I went to Rwanda, in both 2008 and 2009, as part of the Conservative Social Action ‘Project Umabano’ led by Andrew Mitchell MP. I was there to teach would-be English teachers English.

During my visits, I saw perhaps some of the most harrowing scenes I will ever witness, as we visited memorial and remembrance sites to the 1994 genocide in which over half a million Tutsi Rwandans were slaughtered in just one hundred days.

One of the sites, at the Murambi Memorial Centre, is indelibly etched into my consciousness. At this awful place of tragedy, you walk into classrooms, seeing mounds of skeleton skulls and stacks of bones from human remains.

Even now, when I think of what I saw, my mouth goes dry, as the awful massacre flashes through my memory. After that visit, I wrote an article, for Conservative Home in 2008, entitled ‘It was as if Bergen Belsen came to the Hills of Rwanda’. It gives some sense of the awful events of the slaughter that took place.

Given the terrible tragedy that befell that country, and the scars of genocide – which the West bears some responsibility for – it is quite remarkable what has been achieved, in terms of education, economic development and infrastructure. This country is not a basket case, as some are suggesting.

That is not to say there are not significant issues and worries around the advancement of democracy, the rule of law and justice. But to imply that Rwanda is not a suitable country for resettlement is at best inverted snobbery and at worst ‘reverse colonialism’.

Is it really only ‘white’ European countries that are suitable places for migrants and asylum seekers? No. The UNHCR began facilitating the voluntary repatriation of Burundian refugees to Rwanda in August 2020. If the Government had announced that these individuals would be processed in Sweden, would anyone have batted an eyelid?

It is worth noting that it was not Priti Patel, but the liberal Conservative, Oliver Letwin who first proposed this policy idea for asylum seekers. As Shadow Home Secretary, he told the Conservative Party Conference in 2003:

“We will replace the present asylum system – in its entirety – with a system of quotas for genuine refugees and the offshore processing of all claims, to deter all but genuine claims for protection from persecution.”

Letwin’s model was Australia: this country had decided to process asylum seekers offshore and reduced the number of boat crossings, deterred economic migrants, and struck a blow to people traffickers.

However, the Australian model was by no means perfect, and left women and children in particular vulnerable to safeguarding hazards. Although the UK is not proposing the exact same process as the Australian model, for this policy to work it will be vital that the correct safeguards are put in place to ensure this never happens.

Controlling one’s borders’ should be a given for any country. Whilst Britain must always be welcoming and kind, an immigration and asylum system must have three tenets: Is it fair to both immigration and the taxpayer? Is it humane? And, does it work?

Currently the system is not fair to the taxpayer, with almost £5 million spent every day to accommodate asylum seekers in hotels up and down the country.

It is not so humane either, because those who are benefiting the most are the people traffickers who are taking advantage of individuals by fleecing them for thousands of pounds, and putting vulnerable children in the hands of people smugglers and modern-day slavery risks.

Will this new system work? Well of course the jury is still out and there are both serious moral and financial hazards ahead but as one colleague noted during the Home Secretary’s statement in the House yesterday, both the EU and UN have used Rwanda as a country for resettlement.

But it is incumbent on those who are expressing opposition to the proposals to come up with serious plans of their own to deal with the problem.

In addition, it is worth reminding ourselves that those who are travelling here on perilous Channel crossings, are coming from France – a safe country where they are able to make an asylum claim.

Contrary to what has been reported, the Conservatives have a proud record on refugees.

Whether it be the 28,000 Ugandan Asians, who came here under Ted Heath in the 1970s, the 20,000 Syrian refugees who were offered sanctuary through the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme during the Cameron years, and most recently, the Johnson Government’s commitment to allow 20,000 Afghans to come to the UK to escape the ravages and barbarism of the Taliban.

Let us also not forget that given China’s ever-tightening leash of control over Hong Kong, Britain has offered the opportunity to every Hong Kong citizen, who wishes to take advantage of the chance, to come and live in Britain.

I am proud that the United Kingdom has, as it has done so often, acted as a haven and sanctuary for so many fleeing persecution. Whether it be the Sir Nicholas Winton Kindertransport for Jewish children during the Nazi era, or the Ukranian refugee scheme developed by the Department for Levelling Up and the Home Office.

In my own constituency of Harlow, I recently met an Afghan refugee who had given great support to the British army, and was transported out of the country last summer, and with other refugees has now been re-settled here with his family.

Of course there are bureaucratic hurdles that need urgently to be overcome. We do, for instance, need a separate Immigration Department fit for purpose and broken away from the Home Office.

But, to those who are fair-minded, they will know that creating a new programme, bringing in many thousands of new citizens, is not always easy. It is not just about visas, but infrastructure too: accommodation, schools, jobs, the NHS, and much more.

Controlling our borders is not the same as being uncompassionate. Far from it. As someone whose father was an immigrant to this country many years ago, I care deeply that our country has outstretched hands to those in need.

Looking at our record, as opposed to the rhetoric, I remain convinced that this is still the case.

Gerard Lyons: Immigration is a complex challenge which defies quick fixes

19 Apr

Dr Gerard Lyons is a senior fellow at Policy Exchange. He was Chief Economic Adviser to Boris Johnson during his second term as Mayor of London.

Migration has returned to centre-stage. There has been much commentary regarding the morality, legality, likely effectiveness, and uncertain cost of the Government’s Rwanda policy to halt Channel crossings.

Whether it will act as a deterrent, or incentivise smugglers and those being smuggled to behave in a different way, remains to be seen.

There is little doubt that the UK has benefited in economic and cultural terms from migration, with one in seven people living in the UK and 18 per cent of workers born overseas. But it is clear that this policy area is going to become more important, and contentious, the further one looks ahead.

The wider policy debate too continues to evolve, whether that be those advocating open borders or those changing the focus from illegal to undocumented migrants.

According to the UN, 36 out of every 1,000 people live in a country that is different to the one that they were born in, reaching 281 million in 2020 from 173 million in 2000.

International migrants are people who cross a border into a different country, and are classified into economic migrants and those seeking a safe-haven, such as refugees fleeing wars or famines, or asylum seekers who may be escaping persecution.

Often refugees flee to the nearest possible safe-haven, many of which may be poor countries that can’t cope with the influx and need international help. Half of international migrants in low-income countries are refugees, whereas in high-income economies refugees make up only three per cent of the total. The latter would include those fleeing Ukraine into other European countries.

Future migration flows are likely to increase. One factor will be climate change, as it triggers famine and as flooding impacts some heavily populated coastal parts of the globe. Meanwhile, demographic change could impact future economic migration.

For instance, there will be increased migration flows from sub-Saharan Africa to Europe. Africa’s population is close to 1.3 billion and will see a mammoth rise of 450 million in its working age population by 2035.

Two-thirds of international migrants live in twenty countries. The largest numbers are in the USA (51 million), Germany (16 million), Saudi Arabia (13 million), Russia (12 million) and the UK (nine million). The United Arab Emirates has also seen large inflows.

The vast bulk are economic migrants whose primary motive for moving is in pursuit of improved opportunities and a better life. Thus, money sent back home can be high, and last year total remittances were $589 billion, higher than governments send overseas via development aid. While some migrants are initially poor and unskilled, there are many who are well qualified.

It is interesting to see how the migration flows to the UK have evolved. In the 1960s and 1970s there was more emigration than immigration. The 1980s witnessed net immigration that averaged about 7,500 per year.

The big changes followed the 1992 Maastricht Treaty, rising to an average of 62,500 per year in the 1990s, and the enlargement of the EU in 2004, with net inflows averaging over a quarter of a million per year for the following decade.

For many firms, there was a virtually limitless access to a low-cost workforce, negating the need in many instances to invest in skills training at home. Now non-EU migrants coming to the UK exceed those from the EU.

The latest available data, up to March 2020, shows a 6.3 million increase in the UK population this century, driven by net migration alongside rising life expectancy.

In March 2020, 9.2 million people were foreign born in the UK. Increasingly of diverse origin, the largest numbers are from India (847,000), Poland (746,000), Pakistan (519,000), Romania (370,000), and Ireland (364,000).

Migrant workers are spread across high- and low-skilled sectors, with at least one in five workers in hospitality, transport and storage, information communication, and information technology, and about one in five in health and social care.

(Whether we should be attracting skilled doctors and others from lower income countries – the so-called brain drain – where their impact could be significant, is for another discussion.)

Also, reflecting the UK’s strong humanitarian role, between 2011 and 2020 the UK granted protection to about 70,000, with Syria (31,000, Iran (16,000), Eritrea (12,000) and Sudan (11,000) figuring prominently.

In the wake of recent elections, including the 2016 referendum, a number of issues have come to the fore. This includes the fact that the large rise in population has reinforced the need to address existing pressures on public services and housing.

The policy preference has remained for a points-based system to attract targeted migrants the economy needs.

Impact assessments by the Government show a £2.4 billion cost over the next decade from the new skilled-persons route. Also, the British National (Overseas) visa scheme aimed at Hong Kong is expected to attract 290,000 people in the first five years.

According to Oxford’s Migration Observatory the overall fiscal impact of immigration is small, although they acknowledge it depends upon assumptions made and upon the characteristics of migrants.

A long-term analysis by the Office for Budget Responsibility showed a net fiscal positive, although they note, “higher migration could be seen as delaying some of the fiscal challenges of an ageing society, rather than a way of resolving them permanently.”

Indeed, as the UN note, three out of four international migrants are of working age, and as a result the dependency ratio (which shows the number of dependents to the working age population) would otherwise be slightly higher in high income countries.

What does this complex picture mean for the UK?

Migration has been a positive, but I think it important we don’t fall into the trap of assuming that because migration may be seen to pay for itself in fiscal terms we should just allow it to continued uncapped.

Britain is a low-skilled, low-wage economy and we must not lose focus from the need to invest more here at home, rather than always attracting workers from elsewhere because it is easy to do so.

As with other areas of policy, the UK needs to continue to ensure its policy on migration is fit for purpose, not just for economic migration but also refugees and asylum seekers

It is right to try and stop illegal migration. Whether the Rwanda plan or a better alternative can be found is for those who are more intimate with the policy area.

Notwithstanding that, it is important that the UK has sufficient safe channels for refuges and others.

There are both push factors triggering people to leave their home countries and pull factors attracting them to this country. Through overseas aid, bilateral relationships and via international fora, the UK needs to work with other countries to influence push factors.

Perhaps too we can link our overseas aid to exporting the courses and services of British universities, helping African economies and others grow their numbers of highly educated people, the key to future growth.

While, at the same time, directly addressing the pull factor, I have favoured changing from a Beveridge benefits system, where everyone qualifies, to a Bismarckian system where a person’s contributions history determines what they can receive.

Nonetheless, the controversy surrounding the Rwanda policy issue, plus the bureaucracy that characterised the UK’s initially slow response to hosting refugees from Ukraine, should not take away from the fact that the UK is a very  open, globally-minded, and tolerant society.

Welby, small boats and asylum. What’s his alternative?

18 Apr

Let’s start by agreeing that both the gangmaster trade in people trafficking – which makes a mockery of those refugees seeking legal asylum routes – and the deportation of trafficked people to Rwanda are undesirable.

The question that follows is whether the first can be stopped without resort to the second (or a policy very like it).  So move on to mull the only alternative for control on offer that I know of.

Which would be to allow asylum applications from abroad: this is the “safe and legal” route of which we have all read during recent days.

It could be that instead of taking small boats to Britain, asylum seekers would queue up patiently in Paris, Bordeaux and Marseilles to apply for entry.

Which would mean presenting their papers to the authorities abroad rather than tearing them up before arrival here, as is often the case, in order to further their claims.

Some might do so but others wouldn’t: there is really no way of estimating the proportions.  But even were the majority to do so, the number of people seeking asylum in Britain and elsewhere isn’t a fixed number.

And there is no limit on the number of refugees that we and other countries are obliged to take, due to international agreements on refugees drawn up three quarters of a century ago.

In other words, the most likely consequence of such a policy would be higher refugee and migration numbers, as more people entered by both legal and illegal routes.

For once a new means of travel has been hit upon, people are willing to pay to use it, and their number is large, the only direction numbers are likely to go in is up.

So it is with the discovery that a rigid-hulled inflatable boat, dinghy or kayak can profitably be packed with people and sailed from the beaches of Normandy to the coastline of Kent.

A French government better disposed to ours than Emmanuel Macron’s could help reduce the numbers, but by how much, given the length of the coastline, is debatable

And remember: there is no good reason, were the Government to open up “safe and legal” routes from France, for it not to do so automatically for those applying from other countries.

Which suggests taking a much larger number of refugees than the combined total of up to three million Hong Kongers, 20,000 Syrians, and 20,000 or so Afghans that this pro-migration Government has committed to taking.

Plus, of course, Ukrainians.  There were 84 million refugees worldwide in 2020.  Obviously, that total, a larger one than the population of the UK, wouldn’t all want to come here were the prospect on offer.

But it is only a fraction of the total eligible to apply.  How many are the supporters of “safe and legal routes” willing to take, since given our international commitments there is no cap on numbers?

If it is now the teaching of the Church of England that Britain is morally obliged to take as many asylum seekers as wish to come here, Justin Welby should say so.

It just could be that the only alternative on offer is the Government’s Rwandan scheme, which itself is not unprecedented: consider the EU’s deal with Turkey over migration in 2016.

Unless, that is, the Archbishop would prefer Ministers collectively to shrug their shoulders and let the small boats cross – endangering their passengers, enriching criminals and making a mockery of law-abiding asylum seekers.

If so, the view of the Church would presumably be not only that we should take an unlimited number of asylum seekers, but that we should abandon all control of our borders while we’re at it.

A conventional take on the Rwanda policy is that Boris Johnson, down on his luck at the polls, has hit on the cynical wheeze of waging a culture war against migrants.

If so, dropping the annual limit on semi-skilled work permits; easing the salary threshold and allowing an unlimited number of foreign students can stay on for up to two years – all of which he has done – is an odd way of showing it.

As it happens, closing down openings for a British Marine Le Pen would strike me and perhaps others as no bad thing in itself.

For when mainstream parties don’t control migration, opportunities open up for extremist ones.  First past the post and the good sense of voters have kept them at bay.  The cost of living crisis presents them with new opportunities.

At any rate, the events of the last year suggest that the Prime Minister is a wobbly trolley rather than a focused strategist, at least as far as small boats are concerned.

I’ve watched the argument sway back and forth among Ministers, civil servants and SpAds as the small boat numbers climbed from 2,012 in 2020 to 23,000 by November last year.

Some have been unwilling to countenance the Rwanda policy because they don’t like it. And because they fear what must follow if the Government first talks big and then climbs down.

Namely, the mother of all ding-dongs with the courts, and perhaps with parts of the civil service too, followed by the revisiting of obligations from another age that leave us with no limit on numbers and which are decades out of date.

At any rate, the Government now seems to have made up its mind – due perhaps to the arrival of Steve Barclay et al – and now that it has made a decision it must see it through.

In the meantime, the opponents of the policy will warn of the coming of an anti-Christ: Johnson and all his works.  Some are bad faith actors, willing to abandon all control of our borders, but unwilling to say so.

More are good faith ones: believers in a policy of “safe and legal” routes which implies a larger number of asylum seekers than I believe most voters would be willing to take.

Even so, I would sympathise with Welby’s point of view were the small boats making the long journey to Britain from Gwadar in Pakistan or Bushehr in the Persian Gulf or Tartus on the Syrian coast.

But they are coming from France.  From France, for goodness sake – a neighbour that sees itself, not without reason, as the country that gifted civilisation to the world.

Does the Archbishop really think that France is a country from which asylum seekers are compelled to flee to these shores? If so, his sense of Christianity may trump that of his critics, but not his sense of proportion.

The Government’s critics over small boats. Plenty of opportunism, no convincing alternatives.

15 Apr

The small boats carrying migrants will be tracked across the channel.  When these step onto British soil – doing so illegally – they will be met by the armed forces.  They may be screened and sent to Rwanda which will be paid for taking them.  Once they have arrived there, they won’t be able to apply for asylum here.

Such is the picture that the Government is painting of the scheme announced yesterday.  To say that it provokes a long list of questions would be an understatement.

Such as: is it really the role of the armed forces to act as a police force?  Just how many and what proportion of arrivals will be sent?  How much will the scheme cost taxpayers – including that of the Greek-style reception centres in which some arrivals will apparently be held here, and where and how many of these will there be?

In practice, will the arrivals dodge the authorities, not claim asylum, and vanish into the wider population?  Above all: will the plan really work as a deterrent, and survive the coming blitz of human rights-based legal actions?

This mass of questions comes from both the Left and the Right.  The Left’s critique is based on the claim that the scheme is both cruel and useless – a critique less punishing than it may sound, since if the plan is the second it can’t really be the first.  The Right’s boils down to the second.  The cry is: “we’ve heard it all before”.

To make a fair judgement, it is essential to understand what the scheme actually is and isn’t.  It is not, repeat not, offshoring – an Australian-style scheme in which people apply for asylum from abroad.

At its core is the separation of people into legal and illegal streams, under the terms of the Nationality and Borders Bill, which is currently passing through Parliament.  Those entering illegally once removed abroad will not be allowed to apply for asylum here at all.

In short, the scheme is not primarily aimed at asylum seekers as a whole.  Nor even at all those who will be entering the country illegally once the Bill becomes law.

It is targeting a relatively new and potentially destabilising crime racket – the small boats phenomenon – which sees unscrupulous gangmasters paid to organise a potentially deadly journey.  Remember the 27 people who drowned outside Calais last December.

Boris Johnson argued yesterday that this parallel illegal migration system is deeply unfair to those who arrive legally – not to mention all those who voted to take back control of our borders.  This is incontrovertible.

And any accurate judgement on the scheme will understand the context correctly.  The Prime Minister’s critics argue that this is the first time that a British Government will refuse sanctuary to a mass of people most of whom are found by the authorities to be genuine refugees – evidence of extremism, even of fascism.

The Government will claim in the courts that it is obliged to ensure that refugees are sheltered – but not necessarily that they are sheltered here in Britain.

Whatever you may think of the legal arguments, the political realities are unarguable.  First and foremost among them is an open secret that neither Ministers nor their critics want to acknowledge: namely, that this is the most immigration-friendly Government in recent history, stretching all the way back to New Labour.

Johnson has junked the net target for controlling immigration numbers, going instead for his beloved “Australian-style points-based system“.

There is now no annual limit on semi-skilled work permits; qualification requirements and the salary threshold has been lowered; an unlimited number of foreign students can stay on for up to two years; the obligation to first advertise jobs in the UK has been dropped.

Pre-pandemic, Brexit was seeing a boom in net non-EU migration: it rose to 282,000 by the end of 2019 – the highest level ever recorded.  The year to March 2020 showed an overall net migration figure of 313,000.

Then there are the other refugee schemes.  The Government’s opponents will raise its stuttering scheme for Ukrainians.  Its supporters can counter with its offer of refuge to up to three million Hong Kongers.  Where is the racism there?

An accurate representation of the Government shows not a cartoon of wicked monsters imposing a nazi regime – or even of ruthless strategists set on trapping Labour –  but a snapshot of desperate politicians at their wits’ end.

For the fact is that the number of asylum applications from small boats rose from 2,012 in 2020 to 23,000 by November last year.  Where is the upper limit?  The evidence suggests that, even taking the closure of other routes into account, the gangmasters have stumbled across a revolutionary discovery.

Namely, that it isn’t at all hard to sail a small boat full of people seeking a new life in Britain from the long Normandy coastline, regardless of the stance of whatever government holds power in France.

Yes, France – which when I last looked was a liberal western democracy.  And that’s the point: the small boats aren’t sailing to Britain from Tartus in Syria, say; or from Karachi, full of Afghans who have somehow got there.  They’re coming from a European country that is already a safe haven.

The Government’s scheme may not work.  But it is only reasonable to ask its critics the question: what would you do, then?

I exclude from their list the ridiculous Yvette Cooper, whose opportunistic party has no answers, and which gave us when in government the spectacle of illegal immigrants cleaning the then Home Secretary’s office.

There are two alternatives – one coherent, one not.  The former is to give away control to the gangmasters rather than taking it back ourselves: stand back, shrug shoulders, and let events take their course.  Whatever changes there may be in migration polling, the voters wouldn’t stand it for a moment.

A British Marine Le Pen would be on 25 per cent of the vote.  Or more.  And how could such a policy remotely be proclaimed as fair?

Then there is letting people apply for asylum from abroad.  That might stop the small boats were the number of potential migrants to remain roughly as at present (though I doubt it).  But there were 84 million refugees worldwide in 2020. And they are far from being the only people potentially eligible to claim.

Obviously, only a proportion of the whole number would opt to come to Britain if given the option of claiming asylum at a British Embassy.  But the fact is that there is no upper limit on the number we would be obliged to take.

Like other governments, ours is struggling with worldwide obligations shaped three quarters of a century ago, and which are now hopelessly out of date.

Which is why Johnson and company should be cut a bit of slack on the Rwanda plan (which is not unlike the EU’s deal with Turkey over migration in 2016, as it happens).

Priti Patel is wrestling with a Home Office dysfunctional at best and mutinous at worst.  And Downing Street was paralysed over the issue last year.  It looks as though the arrival of Steve Barclay as Chief of Staff, representing a new reliance by Johnson on Conservative MPs, has swung the balance.

But now this policy has been announced, it must be effected.  The real struggle will surely be not with Tory critics, whose numbers have been small, but with the courts – and with a mass of obligations in urgent need of ovehaul.

Priti Patel: How our deal with Rwanda will help curb deadly Channel crossings

15 Apr

Priti Patel is Home Secretary, and MP for Witham.

The UK has a proud history of being open to the world and our society is enriched by legal immigration.

We take pride in supporting refugees fleeing peril around the world, as we have seen yet again in the response to people escaping the terrible war in Ukraine, with over 50,000 visas issued so far to Ukrainians forced to flee.

We are doing more to resettle vulnerable people in the UK – through safe and legal routes – than any other government in recent history. Since 2015 we have offered a place to over 185,000 men, women and children seeking refuge, more than any other similar resettlement schemes in Europe.

This includes almost 100,000 British Nationals Overseas threatened by draconian security laws in Hong Kong, 20,000 through our Syrian scheme, and 13,000 from Afghanistan.

But alongside our international partners, we are facing a global migration crisis. There are an estimated 80 million displaced people in the world and the global approach to asylum and migration is clearly broken.

This severe pressure on the system means claims from those in need of our protection are taking too long to process, and it is taking resource away from supporting people through safe and legal routes to the UK.

The British public voted to take back control of our borders, and we have done that by ending free movement and introducing a new points-based immigration system.

Yet to properly control our borders we must also solve the problem of illegal immigration, which is facilitated by serious organised criminals who profit from human misery.

Illegal immigration puts unsustainable pressures on public services. The broken asylum system costs the taxpayer £1.5 billion a year and we are spending £4.7 million a day on hotels alone.

Each week people put their lives in the hands of people smuggling gangs to get them across the Channel. Unfortunately, all too often we have seen people drown. The way to stop these deaths is to stop the trade in people which causes them.

At the heart of our New Plan for Immigration to fix the system is a simple principle: fairness. Access to the UK’s asylum system should be based on need, not on the ability to pay people smugglers. If you illegally enter the UK via a safe country, you are picking Britain as a preferred destination over others, not coming here because you fear for your life.

You’ve heard me talk about this before, many times. It’s not enough that I share your frustration.

It’s true that our opponents have no plan and don’t care that the British people want us to control immigration – indeed for a long time they howled down anyone who expressed the mildest concern as racist.

Just look at their opposition to the Nationality and Borders Bill: they do not accept we need to change our laws and approach to address the challenges of illegal migration and stop the evil people smugglers trafficking people into Europe.

The tragic loss of life of people in the Channel and the Mediterranean at the hands of these evil smugglers must stop. As an outward-looking country, Britain post-Brexit must find innovative solutions to these challenges and work with new partners on global issues.

That is why I have signed a world-leading migration and economic development partnership with Rwanda, to enable people who arrive in the UK illegally through dangerous routes, such as on small boats, to be relocated to Rwanda to resettle and rebuild their lives there.

Those who are relocated and recognised as refugees will be given up to five years of support, including education and employment training, and help with integration, accommodation, and healthcare, so that they can thrive in Rwanda.

Rwanda has a strong system for refugee resettlement and, like the UK, recognises the huge benefits of controlled immigration. It is a State Party to the 1951 UN Refugee Convention and the seven core UN Human Rights Conventions.

And Rwanda already has an excellent track record of welcoming and integrating people, such as from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi, but also including, for example, people evacuated from Libya under the EU’s Emergency Transit Mechanism, in partnership with the UN Refugee Agency and the African Union.

This agreement contains strong assurances from both countries to ensure that it fully complies with all national and international law.

This partnership is also very much in keeping with our vision for a post-Brexit Global Britain that harnesses the potential of new trade relationships and stimulates investment and jobs in partner countries. Rwanda is enjoying excellent economic growth, with a burgeoning tech sector.

As part of this ground-breaking agreement, the UK is making a substantial investment in the economic development of Rwanda over five years. It will support programmes that will improve the lives of the people in Rwanda and develop their economy, job prospects, and opportunities.

In addition, Britain will provide funding to cover the operational costs for the agreement.

This is the kind of international co-operation we need to tackle this global crisis, make the immigration system fairer, and make sure that people are safe and have new opportunities to flourish.

But there is no one single solution. That’s why in the package we set out yesterday, we confirmed that the Ministry of Defence is going to take command of small boat operations in the English Channel in order to bring their expertise in command and control to the challenge of tackling these crossings.

Migrants who cross the Channel will go through initial checks at Western Jet Foil in Dover before being transferred to a new processing site at Manston in Kent for further checks.

We will make sure that the criminal justice system cracks down on the people smugglers. Going forwards, every small boat incident will be investigated to determine who has been piloting the boat and could therefore be liable for prosecution.

And for the first time the Government will build asylum reception centres, to end the unsustainable practice of housing asylum seekers in hotels.

This has not been easy, but the fact that something is hard is no excuse for accepting the status quo.

This partnership is a world first and will change the way we collectively tackle illegal migration through new, world-leading solutions, to deliver the change the British people want to see.