RISHI Sunak's plan to tackle people smuggling in the channel by making asylum claims from those who travel to the UK on small boats inadmissible has been branded "unworkable."

Details of the scheme are due to be set out tomorrow, with the government reportedly set to remove any migrants to a third country and banned from returning or claiming citizenship.

Cabinet minister Michelle Donelan told the BBC that many people crossing the Channel have previously “travelled through a number of safe countries” or do not need to claim asylum in the UK.

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She said: “This week we will be bringing forward additional legislation, which is based on the principle that if people travel here via illegal routes they shouldn’t be allowed to stay, which I think is common sense and right and the correct approach.”

The Science Secretary added: “Those boats are not filled with people coming from countries that desperately need help. Many times they’re filled with people that are actually economic migrants and have also been exploited by criminal gangs who take their money on a very perilous journey.”

She said the UK Government is “getting a grip” on illegal migration but also promised that more “safe routes” for asylum seekers to enter the UK would be set up, although she failed to name any when pressed repeatedly.

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Lucy Moreton, of the Immigration Services Union, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “The plans as they’ve been announced really are quite confusing.

“We can’t move anyone to Rwanda right now – it’s subject to legal challenge.

“We can’t remove anyone back into Europe because there are no returns agreements and we lost access to the database that allows us to prove that individuals have claimed asylum in Europe – Eurodac – when we left with Brexit.

“So, unless we have a safe third country that isn’t Rwanda to send people to, this just doesn’t seem to be possible.”

She also warned that the threat of a crackdown could lead to an increase in the number of people risking the crossing.

The gangs will tell people “quick, cross now before anything changes”, she said.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer suggested the move was a political tactic ahead of May’s local elections and questioned its legality.

“We had a plan last year which was put up in lights, ‘it’s going to be an election winner’. These bits of legislation always seem to come when we’ve got a local election coming up,” he told LBC Radio.

“It was going to break the gangs – it didn’t. Now we’ve got the next bit of legislation with almost the same billing, I don’t think that putting forward unworkable proposals is going to get us very far.”

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Asked if the plan was legally feasible, the Labour leader said: “I don’t know that it is and I think we’ve got to be very careful with international law here.”

The Prime Minister, who has made “stopping the boats” one of his five priorities, is preparing to act after months of pressure from Tory backbenchers.

Several Tory MPs welcomed the news that a Bill was imminent, with Tory MP Danny Kruger calling it a “serious plan” on BBC Radio 4’s Westminster Hour.

But already there have been questions about how any such legislation, based on the details known so far, could be compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.