‘It’s a con’: Labour amendment to put Sunak’s migrant bill under fresh scrutiny
Labour will seek to put Rishi Sunak’s inability to secure an EU migrant returns deal under fresh scrutiny, with a vote on the government’s controversial migration bill, which returns to the Commons this week.
The illegal migration bill will return to the Commons on Monday for its committee stage, where MPs will examine it line by line over two days.
The prime minister has been told to expect the “biggest rebellion of this parliament”, with at least 60 Conservative MPs set to vote against the bill amid concerns it is not “tough” enough.
The shadow home secretary, Yvette Cooper, and the shadow immigration minister, Stephen Kinnock, have proposed an amendment to the bill that will force the government to publish a framework for a new deal with EU states within three months of the legislation passing. Labour’s proposals will also push for the UK to have access to international databases that were handed over to Border Force when Britain left the EU.
Criticising the bill in its entirety, Cooper said: “It is a con that makes the chaos worse.”
“It won’t do the things the prime minister and the home secretary have promised. It won’t stop the criminal gangs or dangerous crossings and, in fact, it makes it easier for those gangs as well,” she told the Commons.
Sunak travelled to Paris earlier this month to repair strained relations with the French president, Emmanuel Macron, but he was not able to push on pursuing a returns deal with the EU, or France. Instead, Macron successfully secured a multi-year settlement for more French border patrols, including 500 additional officers and new drones.
Keir Starmer said Sunak’s failure to reach a returns deal would only “make a bad situation worse, claiming there will be “people who can’t go through the system, can’t be returned, and they will therefore end up in hotels and other accommodation at the taxpayers’ expense”.
On Friday, some Tories urged the home secretary, Suella Braverman, to agree to ban the European court of human rights from blocking deportation flights, with a number of “red wall” MPs fearing they could lose their seats if Sunak does not deliver on his promise to stop the small boats crossing the Channel.
Others have urged the government to create safe legal routes for asylum seekers to use instead of relying on small boats, and better protections for victims of modern slavery.
“A significant amount of 2019 red wall MPs already see their future working as an accounts director for a medium-sized public affairs firm, so they want to get onboard and back [Sir Bill Cash’s] amendment,” the source added.
Starmer’s plan to tackle the small boats issue involves securing a deal with EU countries on returns, more enforcement on crippling people smuggling gangs and clearing the asylum backlog.
The Conservative MP Tim Loughton is leading a moderate group rebellion to force the government to launch new safe and legal routes for asylum seekers.
As many as 20,000 refugees could seek asylum in Britain every year in a new partnership with the UN’s refugee agency, the Telegraph reported.
Publicly, the prime minister has said he will not announce any new routes until he has “got a grip” on illegal migration and brought down the number of small boat crossings in the Channel.