Issue of the Day … The Illegal Immigration Bill 

Rishi Sunak and Home Secretary Suella Braverman have unveiled their Illegal Immigration Bill - the latest attempt to stem the “waves” of migrants coming to the shores of Britian, primarily on small boats across the English Channel. They claim the Bill, unveiled MPs on Tuesday, will stem the tide. But critics have said it is unworkable and simply a rehash of measures introduced before.  

What’s it all about?  

Thousands of migrants have been coming to the UK from France in small dinghies and other light vessels. Once here, they claim asylum and apply to stay indefinitely. Since 2018 the numbers arriving has mushroomed dramatically – with 45,000 coming in 2022 alone. Rishi Sunak has made stemming the tide one of the pillars of his Premiership, and has now revealed how this will be achieved.  

The Herald:

So what’s the plan?  

Ban all illegal immigration, more or less. Simply put, the Bill will introduce legislation to remove asylum seekers and block them from re-entry if they arrive in the UK through unauthorised means.

READ MORE: Suella Braverman small boats plan could breach human rights law

The Bill also allows the detention of illegal arrivals without bail or judicial review within the first 28 days of detention, until they can be removed. Only children under the age of 18, and those who are unfit to fly or at a real risk of serious and irreversible harm in the country they are being removed to will be able to delay their exit. 

Isn’t that a bit … draconian?  

Home Secretary Braverman doesn’t think so. She claims that 100 million people would be able to enter the UK under current laws, and that they are “coming here”. She told the Commons that the need for reform is “obvious and urgent” as the asylum system now costs the British taxpayer more than £3 billion a year. “Yesterday’s laws” were not enough, she said.  

But those that come in legally will be alright, surely?  

The Bill will also introduce an annual cap, to be decided by Parliament, on the number of refugees the UK will offer sanctuary to through safe and legal routes, Ms Braverman said 

Where will they be removed to? Rwanda?  

It’s not yet clear. The Rwanda plan, despite millions spent on it, never got off the ground and is still in limbo.

READ MORE: Sunak's small boats plan 'unworkable' warns union

A lack of return agreements with other countries has seen just 0.1% of migrants expelled from the UK, according to Labour.  


The Herald:

Ah, Labour – what have they said?  

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said “serious” action is needed to stop small boat crossings, with a new agreement needed with France and other countries. She added: “Instead, today’s statement is Groundhog Day.” 

Any other critics?  

The Refugee Council says it breaks the UK's commitment to give people a fair hearing, regardless of how they arrive, under the UN Human Rights Convention.

Rev Karen Hendry, convener of the Church of Scotland’s Faith Impact Forum said the Bill “goes against everything that we uphold and value in our faith and communities."