PRITI PATEL must scrap a controversial immigration bill or risk criminalising Afghans who flee to the UK.

The SNP has called for the Home Secretary to reconsider the Nationality and Borders Bill in light of the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.

The party’s shadow home secretary Stuart McDonald MP said “hateful” bill could act as a barrier for Afghans who arrive in the UK.

It comes after the government announced it is expected to accommodate as many as 20,000 Afghan refugees, including around 5,000 within a year, following the Taliban’s takeover of the country and the withdrawal of US and UK troops.

The SNP has said the UK should be giving asylum to at least 35,000 Afghans.

Mr McDonald said Ms Patel must reconsider the “inhumane” bill following the growing crisis in Afghanistan.

He said: “There can be no doubt that, given the current humanitarian crisis unfolding in Afghanistan, the hateful, anti-refugee Nationality and Borders Bill must be scrapped immediately.  
“Not only does this Tory Bill breach the UK’s obligations under Human Rights law and the 1951 Refugee Convention, it has also been widely condemned by the UN and numerous refugee charities.
“Under this Bill, if a Uighur fleeing torture; or a Syrian fleeing war crime; or a Christian convert escaping death threats arrives in the UK seeking protection, but doesn’t have a visa, they could be guilty of an offence punishable by up to 4 years in prison. The same will be for those fleeing persecution from the Taliban in Afghanistan. 

“Scotland is ready to do our bit to support Afghan refugees. That is why we are urging the UK government to work with the devolved governments and urgently introduce an ambitious and generous resettlement programme which will help those who are in the greatest of needs.

“But as well as resettlement, the UK government must revisit other dreadful anti-refugee policies it has responsibility for – including this appalling Bill.

“The people of Afghanistan need our help more so now than ever before – we cannot let them down.”

A UK Government spokeswoman said: “We have so far resettled over 3,300 Afghan interpreters, staff and their families who served alongside our brave military.

“Our officials are working as quickly as possible to bring more people to safety in the United Kingdom.

“No one should be in any doubt of our commitment to build upon our proud history of resettling refugees in need of protection. Since 2015 we have resettled more than 25,000 vulnerable refugees, around half of whom are children, and earlier this year the Home Secretary opened a new visa for Hong Kong BN(O) status holders to reflect the UK’s historic and moral commitment to those who have had their rights and freedoms restricted.

“Through our New Plan for Immigration we will strengthen safe and legal routes to the UK for refugees from regions of conflict and instability and discourage dangerous journeys.”