Protecting asylum seekers is central to securing our borders

The Nationality and Borders Bill introduced into Parliament is the start of a new, fairer post-Brexit immigration system that has taken back control of our borders. It is the first step in putting the New Plan for Immigration into law. This is not a Bill that inhibits immigration, but one that gives greater control to UK Border Force and the British people. It is the antidote to the problems that decades of free movement from the EU have created. The UK Government has delivered on their promise and are rightly acting quickly to enact changes.

The Bill includes measures to increase the maximum sentence for those convicted of people smuggling, making it easier to remove someone to a safe country while their asylum claim is processed, and introduces new age assessments to identify adult migrants pretending to be children and protect children from being wrongly moved into the adult asylum system.

I have written before about the understandable sense of unfairness that the British public felt towards their immigration system and the Nationality and Borders Bill is an important step in allowing the UK Government to take back control. In 1998, I emigrated to the United Kingdom. Following legitimate entry into the country and a decade of hard work, I set up my own company in 2009. British Conservatism supports aspiration, hard work and the benefits that legal and fair immigration can bring.

The Bill introduced by the Home Secretary ensures that immigration stays open to those who can contribute to society and guarantees that access to the UK’s asylum system is based on need, not the funding of gangs and people smugglers.

In this historic move, the legality of how someone enters the country will impact how their asylum application is dealt with and the criminal economy of illegal migration to Britain will no longer be profitable or worth the risk. Tackling illegal people-smuggling also has the dual benefit of confronting crime domestically, as it is often those same criminal gangs that are committing offences of the most serious nature at home too.

While there will always be those who jump to condemn any move to take back control of our borders, the Nationality and Borders Bill fully complies with all our international obligations, including those under the European Convention on Human Rights and the UN Refugee Convention. It also stands by our moral duty to protect the most vulnerable via defined, safe and legal routes.

Ultimately, the Bill is a document of common-sense measures. If someone illegally enters the UK via a safe country, they are not seeking refuge from imminent peril and every effort will be made to foster their removal. In those cases where asylum claims are successful, and entry has been illegal, temporary protection status will be given in lieu of an automatic right to settle. This system allows cases to be reviewed and maintains the protection of asylum seekers without allowing for illegal mass immigration.

Britain has a long and proud history of supporting vulnerable peoples across the globe, from helping Jewish people escape persecution in the 1930s and 1940s, to protecting Bosnians from the war-ravaged former Yugoslavia in the 1990s and resettling victims of the Syrian civil war in recent years. The reforms detailed in the Nationality and Borders Bill will allow Britain to continue to assist those with genuine claims to asylum through a less overcrowded and more efficient system.

Thanks to the Home Secretary’s new plan, Britain can look forward to welcoming those in need of protection, as well as those wanting to build a life for themselves and integrate into British society, through safe and legal routes in the coming years. This Bill is the most radical change to the broken asylum system that the country has produced in decades and is about fairness on all fronts: for those seeking asylum and for the British taxpayer.

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