Controversial asylum reforms are ‘chilling’, says York MP

Speaking after the Illegal Migration Bill passed its second reading in the Commons on Monday by 312 votes to 250 – with Labour MPs strongly opposing the measures – Ms Maskell said: “Having read the Bill in detail, it is chilling.

“Very vulnerable people fleeing terrors unimaginable are not going to be able to find sanctuary in the UK in the future, and not allowed to have recourse to any legal appeals.

“This is such an affront to our British values and our long-held reputation as a nation which supports those at their time of need.”

The controversial Bill is designed to stop people claiming asylum in the UK if they arrive through unauthorised means.

Powers would be granted to detain migrants for 28 days without recourse for bail or judicial review, and then indefinitely for as long as there is a ‘reasonable prospect’ of removal.

Challenges based on modern slavery laws would be barred, and any other legal attempt to stay would be heard overseas – after migrants are removed.

Opening the debate in the commons on Monday, Home secretary Suella Braverman said stopping the boats was her’ top priority’, before adding: “The British people are fair, compassionate and generous.

“Millions of legal migrants, including my parents, have experienced this warmth first-hand. But the British people are also realistic – they know that our capacity to help people is not unlimited.”

But Ms Maskell said the Bill ‘ran roughshod’ over the European Convention of Human Rights and the UN Refugee Convention.

She added: “We have reached this point of crisis in the asylum system due to successive Tory Home Secretaries failing to process claims, building significant pressures on the system.

“However the solutions are not found in this Bill. When Labour left office, less than 10,000 cases were outstanding, now there are over 160,000; due to not processing the claims.

“Rather than scapegoating the most traumatised adults and children, the Home Secretary should look to herself and sort out her department.

“Labour … will provide safe routes to come to the UK for those seeking asylum, ending people smuggling and stopping dangerous journeys across the English Channel, while also ensuring that we sort out the asylum backlog.”

York Outer Conservative MP Julian Sturdy, who voted for the Bill, admitted it was not perfect. He said he would ‘scrutinise all amendments and work with backbench colleagues to lobby for any necessary change’.

But he added: “The Bill’s broad aims are right, we just need to get the detail right.

“There will certainly be numerous amendments to consider. I will be particularly interested in those that mandate the establishment of further safe routes ahead of the Bill’s implementation.”

The Bill has now moved to Committee stage, where opposition and backbench MPs will attempt to amend the legislation.

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