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Most people are agreed that our infrastructure, public services, housing and more cannot allow unlimited immigration. That applies to perfectly legal arrivals, their families, asylum seekers and those arriving wholly illegally. All must be curbed, and the government took action this week to do so.

The Office for National Statistics say that 600,000 more people stayed in the UK last year than those who left (it’s about 3 million plus coming in and 2.5 million leaving.) That’s why the Home Secretary announced a raft of changes to immigration rules to try to stem that flow, and curb abuses. The measures would cut the net figures by about 300,0000- still high, but more manageable. There may well be unintended consequences- spouses, for example- although they can probably be argued on an individual basis. But I am glad that we are curbing students’ relations’ visas, for example.

The most visual (although far smaller numbers) are those arriving totally illegally, largely by small boats. There has been action to reduce it- and the numbers are down by about 33%. Albanians- who last year accounted for 90% of them- are now reduced to near zero by the simple arrangement that any arriving would be returned home. That proves that deterrence works. If the potential illegals who are paying people traffickers thousands of pounds for the privilege know that they will automatically be removed, then they will save their money and remain in France or wherever they are coming from. At the moment they know that they will be put up comfortably in, for example, the Wiltshire Golf Club Hotel in Royal Wootton Bassett with a good chance of being allowed to stay and send home for their relations. That must be stopped.

So I support the principle of the Rwanda scheme. If people know that they will be taken straight to Heathrow thence to Kigali for processing they will stop coming here. Rwanda is a safe country, and the arrangements we have made there ensure that people are safe and comfortable while their asylum claims are considered. The Supreme Court took a different view and overturned the will of Parliament, which is why a new Treaty has been agreed with the Rwanda Government; and the new Bill introduced to Parliament to ensure our Sovereignty. Braverman and Jenrick think that the European Court of Human Rights could still theoretically reverse Parliament’s will. They would have us leave the ECHR altogether, ignoring the fact that the Rwanda deal would collapse totally if we did. Leaving the ECHR and repealing the Human Rights Act may well have unintended consequences; and as a Nation we respect International Law.

So I will be supporting Rishi Sunak’s brave and tough determination to halt the illegal arrivals; and to bankrupt the evil people smugglers. We need immigrants of all kinds in this country and we have a long and decent tradition of giving refuge to genuine political asylum seekers who would be imprisoned or killed in their own countries. But we simply do not have the resources nor space to throw open our doors to the hundred million or so people who are displaced around the world. It should be we in Parliament who decide who is allowed into Britain- not the courts, not the ECHR. These measures are our only hope of achieving that.

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December 7, 2023