May said that the bill would deny victims of modern slavery support
Former Prime Minister Theresa May tore into Rishi Sunak’s Illegal Migration Bill in the Commons yesterday, as dozens of Tory MPs failed to vote for the government’s asylum seeker crackdown.
The bill passed the second reading stage of its parliamentary journey by 312 votes to 250 last night. Should it become law, it places a legal duty on the Home Secretary to remove migrants who arrive in the country illegally. They will be swiftly sent to their home country if it is deemed safe, or to a safe third country such as Rwanda, where they will be “supported to rebuild their lives”, the Home Office said.
Under the new legislation, all those who arrive illegally will be declared inadmissible to stay. The proposed law also means that people who come to the UK illegally will be prevented from settling in the country and will face a permanent ban on returning.
May said that the bill would deny victims of modern slavery support, as she exposed how flawed it is.
She said: “The UK has always welcomed those who are fleeing persecution, regardless of whether they have come through a safe and legal route. By definition, someone fleeing for their life will more often than not be unable to access a legal route.
“I don’t think it’s enough to say we will meet our requirements by sending people to claim asylum in Rwanda and this matters because of the reputation of the UK on the world stage and that matters because the UK’s ability to play a role internationally is based on our reputation not because we are British but because of what we stand for and what we do.”
May also said she hoped the bill could be altered because “as it currently stands we are shutting the door on victims who are being trafficked into slavery here in the UK”.
She said: “I hope we can find some resolution. But as it currently stands we are shutting the door on victims while being trafficked into slavery here in the UK.
“If they come here illegally they will not be supported to escape their slavery.
“And the Home Office itself recognises the damage this Bill will do. In the explanatory notes they make the point about clause 21 to 28 on public order disqualification.
“These provisions are subject to a sunsetting mechanism so that they can be suspended should the current exceptional illegal migration situation no longer apply.
“In other words, we know this isn’t ideal but we’ve got lots of people coming here illegally, we’ve got to do something so the victims of modern slavery, if you like, will be collateral damage.”
Basit Mahmood is editor of Left Foot Forward