With its planned tightening of asylum laws, the British government is embarking on a controversial course. "The boats that are bringing tens of thousands to our shores will be stopped," said British Home Secretary Suella Braverman, who introduced the new law to the London House of Commons on Tuesday. "We have pushed the limits of international law to resolve this crisis," she previously confessed to the Telegraph.
In concrete terms, almost all migrants who arrive illegally are to be detained in accommodation such as former military bases or student dormitories and then expelled to Rwanda or other countries. The right to apply for asylum should be taken away from them. The plans could violate the European Convention on Human Rights.
Hardly any legal ways into the country
"They won't stop coming here until the world knows that anyone entering the UK illegally will be arrested and quickly deported," Braverman said. In fact, there are hardly any legal routes into the country for people fleeing to the UK. According to The Times, the government expects the plan could end up in court, the paper said, citing government sources.
Britain has already signed a controversial pact with Rwanda and paid the country £140m (currently around €156m) for it. Migrants should apply for asylum in Rwanda and - if granted - be able to live there. A return to Great Britain is not planned. Since the European Court of Human Rights intervened, there have been no deportation flights from Great Britain to Rwanda so far.
criticism and outrage
The opposition and human rights activists reacted with outrage: the British Refugee Council criticized that Great Britain was betraying its obligation under the Geneva Refugee Convention to grant people a fair hearing, regardless of their route of arrival. Labor leader Keir Starmer has questioned the plans' legal validity.
"The law will not prevent people from crossing the English Channel. It will only increase the trauma to people in these boats and damage Britain's reputation around the world," said Laura Kyrke-Smith of the International Rescue Committee UK.
It could be months before the law actually comes into force. Resistance is expected in the upper house, which could trigger a "ping-pong" between the two chambers.
According to the British news agency PA, almost 3,000 migrants have crossed the English Channel into the country so far this year - in 2022 there were 45,755, 60 percent more than in the previous year.
The increase has long been a thorn in the side of the government in London. Restricting immigration and maintaining control of one's own borders was one of the core promises of Brexit. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has made this one of his policy priorities.
Sunak wants to meet French President Emmanuel Macron for a Franco-British summit on Friday. On the British side there is hope, also through stricter controls on the French side, to prevent those seeking protection from crossing.