Priti Patel says it ‘took a referendum’ for politicians to listen
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The Bill is intended to “tackle illegal migration, asylum and control the UK borders” and will return to the Commons today for its second reading in Parliament. But the SNP has claimed the Bill will strip many refugees of rights to a family reunion, support and permanent settlement.
The SNP has now tabled an amendment to the Bill on the grounds that if passed it would breach the 60-year-old UN convention on the status of refugees.
Cumbernauld MP Stuart McDonald, the SNP’s home affairs spokesperson, said: “The Tory government’s Nationality and Borders Bill is nothing more than a hateful anti-refugee Bill that breaches the UK’s international obligations – it must be condemned in the strongest possible manner.
“If a Uighur fleeing torture; or Syrian fleeing war crimes; or Christian convert escaping death threats arrives in the UK seeking protection, but without a visa, they could be guilty of an offence punishable by up to four years in prison if this Bill goes through.
“MPs and charities alike have expressed serious concerns about the Bill, but the Tories have ignored them and are ploughing ahead with it anyway.
“I have tabled an amendment that attempts to stop the Bill in its tracks and my SNP colleagues and I will continue to work to stop this bill becoming law.”
One of the main objectives of the Bill is to increase the fairness of the system to better protect and support those in need of asylum.
Another is to deter illegal entry into the UK, therefore breaking the business model of people-smuggling networks and to remove those with no right to be in the country.
Home Secretary Priti Patel will defend the controversial Bill and is expected to highlight new measures to help the vulnerable.
Ms Patel said the Government’s plans were a “firm but fair” way to fix a “broken asylum system”.
It is believed the Home Secretary will tell the Commons: “The British people have always been generous to refugees.
“This is a source of great national pride and will never change.
“Since 2015, more than 25,000 refugees have been resettled in the UK from regions of conflict – more than any other European country.
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“We have also enabled more than 29,000 close relatives of refugees to join them in the UK in the last five years.
“Part of our firm but fair approach is to strengthen the safe and legal ways in which people can enter the UK, including through the UK Resettlement Scheme, which started in February.
“This country does right by those in need.”
The Bill has already been widely criticised by human rights activists who claimed it is “reckless and deeply unjust”.
Steve Valdez-Symonds, refugee and migrants rights programme director at Amnesty International UK, said: “This shockingly bad bill will fatally undermine the right to asylum – both in the UK and elsewhere.
“Instead of introducing this piece of utter legislative vandalism, what the Home Office should be doing is establishing safe routes for the relatively few people escaping persecution who wish to seek asylum here.
“This reckless and deeply unjust bill is set to bring shame on Britain’s international reputation.
“It will open the door to other countries also seeking to dismantle a global refugee system which has saved countless lives.
“This is a shameful dereliction of duty from the Home Secretary.
“If the bill goes through, the UK will have reneged on key international commitments – including the Refugee Convention, put in place after the horrors of World War 2.”
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