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Ministers battle Whitehall 'Blob' over Rishi Sunak's pledge to tackle Channel migrant crisis

A group of migrants are brought to Dover on a Border Force vessel today

Plans to tackle the migrant crisis in the Channel today faced opposition from Whitehall establishment ‘Blob’.

The government is preparing a major immigration bill to fulfill Rishi Sunak’s promise to “stop the boats”.

But he was attacked by senior civil servants before the details were even released.

A former mandarin said it was “highly doubtful” the proposals would lead to lower crossings. Charities have also criticized the plans.

The new legislation should strengthen the measures for declaring asylum applications “inadmissible”.

A group of migrants are brought to Dover on a Border Force vessel today

A group of migrants are brought to Dover on a Border Force vessel today

Migrants housed at Napier Barracks in Folkestone, Kent on March 6

Migrants housed at Napier Barracks in Folkestone, Kent on March 6

It is also expected to restrict individuals’ ability to use human rights laws to avoid being sent home.

The Mail revealed this morning that the Illegal Migration Bill will contain lifetime bans for those arriving by ‘irregular routes’, such as by small boat.

Mr Sunak is expected to hold talks with French President Emmanuel Macron later today and set the stage for a summit on Friday, when the Channel crisis is expected to top the agenda. He pledged to “detain and rapidly evacuate” Channel migrants – nearly 46,000 of whom arrived last year.

However, former Home Office permanent secretary Sir David Normington today predicted the government’s plan would face ‘very big’ problems.

“These are people many of whom are desperate, they have fled persecution and have been told there has been a change in legislation in the UK Parliament, I don’t think that’s going to make much of a difference to them,” he said. he told the BBC. Radio 4’s Today program.

“And then the government has to do something with them. He says he will detain them for 28 days and then deport them.

“But where is he going to keep them, because he doesn’t have room?

“And where is he going to deport them, because he doesn’t have agreements with enough safe countries?”

Lucy Moreton of the Immigration Services Union also questioned the proposals.

“The plans as announced are really quite confusing,” she told the Today programme.

“We cannot move anyone to Rwanda at the moment – ​​it is subject to legal challenge. We cannot send anyone back to Europe because there are no return agreements and we have lost access to the database which allows us to prove that people have applied for asylum in Europe – Eurodac – when we left with Brexit.

“So unless we have a safe third country which is not Rwanda to send people to, it just doesn’t seem possible.”

Ms Moreton, who represents immigration officers, said government announcements could ‘fuel’ people smuggling, with gangs telling potential migrants ‘quick, cross now before anything changes’.

Enver Solomon of the Refugee Council described the plans as “flawed”, adding: “It’s impractical, expensive and won’t stop the boats”.

He suggested the proposals would “break the UK’s long-standing commitment under the UN Convention to give people a fair hearing no matter what route they took to reach our shores”.

The government is preparing a major immigration bill to fulfill Rishi Sunak's commitment to

Government prepares major immigration bill to deliver on Rishi Sunak’s pledge to ‘stop the boats’

Steve Valdez-Symonds of Amnesty International UK condemned the measures as “shameful and fearmongering”.

Downing Street insisted action was vital to prevent further lives from being lost on the dangerous crossing through northern France.

The Prime Minister’s spokesman said: ‘First we need people to wait for the details of the actual policy to come out before giving their opinion.

“We have seen too many lives lost attempting this dangerous and unnecessary journey, and the number of people entering the country is simply unsustainable.

“As we have always said, we recognize that there are likely to be challenges in many forms to this type of legislation.”

He said Mr Sunak believed there was no need to withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights.

Cabinet Minister Michelle Donelan said: ‘This week we will introduce additional legislation, based on the principle that if people are traveling here through illegal routes they should not be allowed to stay, which I believe , is common sense and fair.

“These boats are not full of people from countries that desperately need help.

“Often they are filled with people who are actually economic migrants and who have also been exploited by criminal gangs who take their money on a very perilous journey.”

Asked if the plan was legally feasible, Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer replied: “I don’t know if it is and I think we have to be very careful with international law here.”

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