Small Boats Legislation: Liberal Democrats vote unanimously against Tories Illegal Migration Bill

Liberal Democrat Party says 'no person is illegal’

In an emergency motion brought to debate at the Liberal Democrat conference today, members voted unanimously both in-person and online to reject the Tory Government’s Illegal Migration Bill.

The passed motion, titled A Better Alternative to the Small Boats Legislation, calls on the government to provide a safe and legal route for refugees to reach sanctuary in the UK from all countries, including providing an expanded, properly-funded refugee resettlement scheme.

Championed by Suella Braverman, the Illegal Migration Bill would allow refugees to be removed from the UK if they arrive in the country illegally. The proposed Bill also means people who come to the UK illegally will be prevented from settling in the country and will face a permanent ban on returning.

The Home Secretary has been asked to appear before a committee as an inquiry was launched over the Bill failing to meet human rights standards.

Lib Dem members have called on the government to immediately scrap the Illegal Migration Bill as Lib Dem speakers said the party believes ‘no person is illegal’ and that refugees are welcome here.

Speakers argued that the Bill goes again the liberal values that the party upholds and challenged the toxic language used by the Conservative government and attacks on asylum seeker hotels.

Alistair Carmichael, Lib Dem Spokesperson for Home Affairs, and mover of the motion said the party will fight the Bill by all means.

Speaking at the conference, Carmichael said: “I do not believe that Suella Braverman is stupid. Incompetent and downright unpleasant, but not stupid. Ask yourself this though, if she’s not stupid why is she spending time on the Illegal Migration Bill, that is almost designed to fail. There is only one reason, politics.

“This basket of deplorables have crashed our economy, burdened our economy in crippling debt and now they’ve been rumbled.

“They demonise the desperate and present them as a threat and shift the blame for their own incompetence even coming up with a three-word slogan ‘stop the boats’. I’ve got my own slogan for the next election; ‘get them out’.

“This Bill just demonstrates how far the Tory party have changed and fallen.”

He added: “The boats are not full of economic migrants. Asylum is granted for 84-98% of people and they come here because they have a family connection, speak English, have fought bravely or because they are desperate, they come in safe boats because there is no safe legal other way to come.

“You don’t see people from Hong King or Ukrainians in boats because they’ve been given safe routes. Now this government is turning other refugees away and that will mean one thing, they will die.

“We shall be opposing this pernicious and dangerous legislation, they will not win without a fight.”

(Photo credit: Credit: Wikimedia)

Hannah Davenport is trade union reporter at Left Foot Forward

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