Today, Home Secretary Suella Braverman warned that under current rules, 100 million people could be eligible for asylum in the UK, as she unveiled a radical overhaul.
The Home Secretary dismissed Labour jeers in the Commons and said that tough new legislation being unveiled would “allow us to stop the boats”.
She argued that the need for reform was “obvious and urgent” and that some migrants were exploiting Britain’s generous system.
The landmark Bill will bar illegal arrivals from staying and applying on refugee, modern slavery or human rights grounds. Only children and the gravely ill will be allowed to remain in Britain while cases are considered.
Ms Braverman said it would be a “betrayal” not to tackle the “waves of illegal migrants breaching our border”, arguing that 100 million people could technically be eligible for asylum under the existing rules.
The new Bill is also expected to give Parliament the power to set an annual cap on the number of refugees accepted into the country, with local authorities being consulted on how many they can take.
The PM is set to visit the South East as he trumpets the blueprint, part of his vow to “stop the boats” after 45,000 people made the perilous crossing last year.
However, Home Secretary Suella Braverman has conceded the initiative “pushes the boundaries” of international law and the government faces challenges in the courts and in Parliament.
Critics have also warned that the proposals are “unworkable” because the UK does not have anywhere safe it can send the numbers who cross the Channel.
Immigration laws brought into force under Boris Johnson set out how the Home Secretary can declare a migrant’s claim inadmissible if they passed through a safe third country such as France.
Today’s strengthened package will see this applied almost across the board to all migrants. The move will expand powers introduced by Labour in 2003 – ‘non-suspensive appeals’ – that allow asylum seekers to be removed after their initial claim is rejected.
However use of the powers has slumped. There were 1,285 asylum cases earmarked for the process in 2018, but in the first six months of last year only 171 were deemed eligible.
Ministers have insisted that they can ignore last-minute interventions by Strasbourg judges.
A new Bill of Rights, published last June but currently on hold, states unequivocally that “no account is to be taken of any interim measure issued by the European Court of Human Rights”.
But it is not yet known whether today’s legislation will include the measures.
Ministers are braced for opposition from the Whitehall establishment – dubbed the “Blob” – over their plan to tackle the Channel crisis.
Critics include former Home Office mandarin Sir David Normington who said it was “highly doubtful” the proposals would lead to a fall in crossings.
Refugee charities and a trade union that represents immigration officers were also among those who questioned early details of the scheme.
Sir David told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “At the heart of the policy is a gamble that if you say it’s illegal to come in a small boat people will stop coming. I think that is highly doubtful.”
He predicted the Government’s plan would face “very great” problems. Lucy Moreton of the Immigration Services Union also cast doubt on the plans, describing them as “quite confusing”.
Enver Solomon of the Refugee Council described the legislation as flawed, adding: “It’s unworkable, costly and won’t stop the boats.”