Panicking Tory MPs turned on Priti Patel today accusing her of ‘losing control’ of the Channel migrants crisis, after the arrival of hundreds more people at the weekend.
The Home Secretary was assailed by politicians from across the political divide as she faced questions in the House of Commons.
The number of people who have made the dangerous journey across the English Channel in small boats this year has tripled the total for all of 2020.
Veteran MP Edward Leigh said the problems amounted to a ‘national emergency’ warning that the government is breaching the promise to ‘take back control’ made during the Brexit referendum.
But Ms Patel, who was forced by the opposition to come to the Commons to address the crisis, hit back by insisting that there is no ‘simple solution’ to stop the steady stream coming from the continent.
The clashes came after business minister Paul Scully had earliercomplained that agreements with Paris have not been ‘effected’, as the backlash from Tories gathered pace.
At least 886 people succeeded in reaching the UK on Saturday, the Home Office confirmed today.
This brings the total for the year to more than 25,600, according to available official data.
Despite the UK pledging £50million to bolster patrols and other counter-measures the numbers show little sign of abating and the Home Secretary has been the target of frustration from MPs in her own party.
A task force set up by Boris Johnson to draw up a new strategy is said to be looking at housing asylum seekers in army barracks rather than hotels.
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Steve Barclay has been told to drive policies across government, and is expected to chair the first meeting of the group early this week.
The initiative will consider the accommodation idea, the possibility of cutting benefits, if return agreements can be strengthened as well as ‘offshoring’ to third countries while claims are processed, according to the Daily Telegraph.
Home Secretary Priti Patel has been the target of increasing frustration from her own MPs
Veteran MP Edward Leigh said the problems amounted to a ‘national emergency’ warning that the government is breaching the promise to ‘take back control’ made during the Brexit referendum
A record 4,000 arrivals have made the perilous crossing this month, including vulnerable children, and relations with France have been increasingly strained (pictured, arrivals at Dover over the weekend)
What happens to migrants after they arrive in the UK?
Migrants who have been picked up after landing or intercepted at sea are taken to a Border Force processing centre, usually near Dover.
Here arrivals are triaged to identify any medical needs or vulnerabilities, fed and checked to see if they have a criminal record. Adults have an initial interview before being sent to accommodation centre across Britain, paid for by UK taxpayers and provided by private contractors.
The migrants are given £37.75 per week for essentials like food, clothes and toiletries while they wait for a decision on their asylum application. Kent County Council normally takes unaccompanied children into its care, although other local authorities are also involved in this programme.
Other migrants might be kept in a detention centre ahead of a plan to send them back to Europe. However, just five were deported last year as ministers admitted to ‘difficulties’.
While a member of the EU, Britain was part of the Dublin Regulation, an EU-wide deal that required migrants to apply for asylum in the first member state they arrive in and could be deported back to that country if they moved on to another.
However, since Brexit there has been no formal arrangements to allow migrants to be deported to France or another EU member country.
Sir Edward claimed the issue of illegal migrant Channel crossings was ‘now a national emergency’.
‘We told the people at the referendum, us Brexiteers, that we would take back control, it’s clear that in this we have lost control,’ he said.
‘If you tell the most desperate economic migrants in the world that we will provide a free border service, taxi service across the Channel, we will never deport you, will put you up in a hotel as long as you like, is it any wonder that more and more come?’
‘This is now a national emergency, will the Home Secretary bring in emergency powers act to override the Human Rights Act if necessary and put these people in secure accommodation now, otherwise we won’t solve the problem.’
Ms Patel replied: ‘The new plan for immigration and the Borders and Nationality Bill – that these changes are pivotal to absolutely bring a comprehensive reform to the entire system. There is no single solution to this and that is why this Bill is so important and that is why I know that all (MPs) on this side of the House will absolutely back the Bill, which is a stark contrast to the benches opposite.’
She said: ‘The UK Government is addressing the challenge of illegal migration for the first time in decades through comprehensive reform to break the entire business model of people smuggling, so for the first time whether you enter the UK legally or illegally, it’ll have an impact on how your asylum claim is processed and on your status in the UK if that claim is successful.’
Fellow Conservative MP Philip Hollobone said the Government should ensure the money given to the French police is used to stop the ‘illegal flow’ of migrants across the Channel.
He said: ‘Giving tens of millions of pounds to the French, including night vision equipment, ANPR technology and access to drones… isn’t it completely disgraceful, as we have seen in recent days, for large groups of French police to be pictured on the beaches in France waving large boats of migrants coming across the Channel?
‘If we are giving the French this money, please can we insist they use it to stop this illegal flow?’
Home Office minister Tom Pursglove said Ms Patel had a ‘constructive conversation last week with the French interior minister’, adding: ‘He has repeatedly said that the determination is to stop 100 per cent of these crossings, which is an endeavour we entirely support.’
Mr Scully told Sky News: ‘We’ve made an agreement with France which, unfortunately, is not being effected well enough at the moment, and that’s what we need to go back and do.’
Mr Scully continued: ‘One of the things we’ve got to do is stop the pull factors, we’ve got to stop the reason why people are travelling through safe countries, through France, to come to the UK.
‘Actually, we’ve got to make sure they are treated well in France, that in the first place, that they are claiming asylum – that’s what the rules are, that’s what the laws are.’
He added: ‘While they (migrants) can see there is a pathway across the Channel because the border isn’t being enforced well enough on the land side, on the French side, and while we’re not allowed to treat illegal immigrants differently from legal immigrants, then those pull factors remain – that’s what we’re tackling and trying to tackle at full speed.’
Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said it was important to ‘kill the business model’ to stem the migrant crisis.
Asked what people in Calais should do if they are seeking asylum in the UK, Mr Zahawi told LBC: ‘What will happen, hopefully, is you kill the business model. You end the business model. Because, basically, at the moment if they think that once they arrive on these shores the legal system can be used to allow them to stay here, then they will keep doing it.
‘If the message gets out, very quickly by the way, and I’ve already seen it on the issue around … what the Belarussian government were doing to weaponise migration against Poland and other countries.
‘Once the message gets out that those people can’t get through, then they very quickly stop… doing that.’
In a sign of the difficulty in coping with the numbers of arrivals, Channel migrants are being bussed 500 miles to Scotland for processing after arriving on beaches in Kent as the system struggles under a record number of crossings.
Business minister Paul Scully complained that agreements with Paris have not been ‘effected’ as the backlash from Tories gathered pace
Dozens have taken the eight-hour journey to Dungavel immigration detention centre in Strathaven, South Lanarkshire in the last few weeks, according to a pressure group.
Until now, migrants have been processed in Home Office short-term holding facilities an hour or two from Dover.
Dungavel is an immigration removal centre, which is usually used to hold failed asylum seekers prior to deportation. There are eight others in the UK, seven in England and one in Northern Ireland.
Kate Alexander, director of Scottish Detainee Visitors, told The Guardian: ‘When I visited Dungavel on 14 October, I learnt that around 50 people who had crossed the Channel in small boats had been brought there for ”processing”.
‘Staff said this was the second time it had happened in a month, but not before that.’
The Home Office said: ‘The British public have had enough of seeing people die in the Channel while ruthless criminal gangs profit from their misery and our new plan for immigration will fix the broken system which encourages migrants to make this lethal journey.
‘People should claim asylum in the first safe country they reach – rather than making dangerous journeys to the UK.
‘That is why we will have rules in place to make asylum claims inadmissible where people have travelled through or have a connection to safe countries.’
It came as a minister warned French officials were not enforcing their land border ‘well enough’ to prevent people crossing the Channel.
French officials are not enforcing their land border ‘well enough’ to prevent migrants from crossing the Channel, a minister has argued.
It comes after more than 24,700 people have arrived in the UK so far this year after making the Channel crossing in small boats – almost three times the number there were in 2020.
A newborn baby clutching its mother’s chest was among 200 migrants who sailed ashore along the Kent coastline yesterday.
Video footage showed the aftermath of three boats landing on the shoreline near Dungeness, with around 65 exhausted people crammed onto each one.
The new arrivals bring the total number to have made it to the UK this month to 4,019, exceeding the previous record of 3,879 in September. This year’s total is now a record-breaking 23,761
Dozens have taken the eight-hour journey to Dungavel immigration detention centre in Strathaven, South Lanarkshire (pictured) in the last few weeks, according to a pressure group
Migrants huddle together on the beach at Dungeness yesterday after three crammed boats arrived on the shoreline
Migrants could be ‘housed in Army barracks rather than hotels’ under new proposal
A task force will reportedly consider strategies including housing asylum seekers in Army barracks rather than hotels as the Government faces criticism over the migrant crisis.
Boris Johnson has drafted in Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Steve Barclay to oversee the issue of the rising number of migrants arriving on Britain’s shores, The Sunday Times reported
The initiative will consider the accommodation idea, the possibility of cutting benefits, if return agreements can be strengthened as well as ‘offshoring’ to third countries while claims are processed, the paper said.
Labour have accused Home Secretary Priti Patel of ‘comprehensively failing’ to stem the flow.
Witnesses described coaches filled mostly with men being led away from the shingle beach by Border Force officials.
Paul Fenney, 40, from Folkestone, Kent, was enjoying a family walk when he saw the latest landings.
Mr Fenney said: ‘I saw three ambulances, three coaches and about 40 police and RNLI boats.
‘There was one coach already full and on the back it said it was an 87-seater and the coach in front had about ten people on it, and when we walked to the sea there were about 90 there.
‘There were three boats and they were obviously overloaded. There was a newborn baby that was rushed away with female paramedics and its mother.
‘We saw ten little lads, they looked like they were on their own. They were walking in a group with Border Force people.
‘The majority were men – I only saw that one lady with the very small baby clutched to her chest.’
More than 24,700 migrants have arrived in the UK so far this year.
The news comes amid reports that some asylum seekers are getting tattoos of Jesus and cruxifixes as evidence they have converted to Christianity and cannot be returned to the Middle East on religious grounds.
Immigration appeal judgments over the last five years show that over 20 asylum claimants have tattoos connected to Christianity, atheism and homosexuality, the Sunday Telegraph reports.
In each of these cases, the tattoos were used to argue the risk individuals face if returned to their Muslim home countries, many of which deem leaving the Islamic faith and being gay as criminal offences.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is facing increasing pressure from his own party to adopt a tougher stance on migrants crossing the channel, as a poll showed 77 per cent of Tory voters felt the Government’s approach was ‘too soft’.
Senior party figures warned Mr Johnson that a shift to the political centre would ‘open up a gap’ on the PM’s right flank, leaving space for another party which could cost the Tories a majority at a future election.
Just one of the three boats – each estimated to have been crammed with about 65 people – which landed in Kent yesterday.