Post-Brexit immigration: Just 11 people hit by ‘new and improved’ rules – bombshell chart

Stuart McDonald grills Priti Patel on Anti-Refugee Bill

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New data published by the Home Office on Thursday, March 3, shows the inefficiency of asylum rules brought in after Brexit. This comes as the Home Secretary, Priti Patel, suffered a major blow on the same day as the House of Lords rejected controversial asylum and nationality measures within her Nationality and Borders Bill, described by the Government as the answer to the UK’s immigration system problems.

According to the data, new rules brought in after Brexit that were designed to deter the number of people coming to the UK seeking asylum have hardly had any impact at all.

The rules stated that asylum seekers might not be considered for refuge if they travelled to the UK “through a ‘safe third country’,” or “have a connection to a safe third country where you could claim asylum”.

But the Home Office figures show that just 11 people have been deported under these rules since they came into force after the UK left the EU.

A total of 64 individuals were served with “inadmissibility decisions, meaning the UK would not admit the asylum claim for consideration in the UK system, because another country was considered to be responsible for the claim, owing to the claimant’s previous presence in, or connection to a safe country”.

The figures also show, however, that the number of people seeking asylum in the UK was higher than ever in 2021, beating figures seen during the 2015 EU migrant crisis and exposing the sheer volume of people around the world fleeing persecution.

In 2021, a total of 28,526 people arrived in the UK via “small boats” – a term used to identify “irregular” entry to the UK via “vessels used by individuals who cross the English Channel, with the aim of gaining entry to the UK without a visa or permission to enter”.

These are most commonly rigid-hulled inflatable boats (RHIBs), dinghies and kayaks, bringing asylum-seekers to British shores in some of the most dangerous possible conditions – at least 44 people died or went missing in 2021 attempting to enter the UK this way.

Unlike many societal trends, the arrival of asylum seekers hasn’t seen any visible impact from the coronavirus pandemic – in 2020, 8,466 people arrived in the UK via small boats. In 2019, that figure was 1,843. In 2018, it was 299.

There were 18,766 formal applications for asylum in the fourth quarter of 2021 — that’s 141 percent more applications than the same period in 2020, and 89 percent more when compared to the same period in 2019.

In total in 2021, there were 48,540 asylum applications in the UK, 63 percent higher than the previous year.

The numbers of people applying for asylum in the UK in 2021 were “substantially higher than levels seen prior to the [coronavirus] outbreak”, the Home Office said.

The figures also show that just 2,380 people were forcibly returned to another county in the year ending September 2021.

This is a 35 percent yearly drop, and the lowest number on record.

Enver Solomon, CEO of the Refugee Council, said: “It comes as no surprise that [the] Home Office statistics show that the UK, along with our European neighbours, has seen an increase in asylum applications in 2021.

“Where there is war, conflict and violence — there will be people desperately seeking safety.

“It is important to recognise that seven out of 10 men, women and children arriving in the UK are found to be fleeing bloodshed and persecution, the likes of which is unfolding in Ukraine, and so are granted protection.”

Meanwhile, Priti Patel’s controversial Nationality and Border’s Bill received a knock in the House of Lords, hailed by critics as a “victory for compassion”.

The Home Office was urged to “take heed” after peers rejected plans within the Bill which would criminalise refugees based on their method of arrival in the UK.

Clause 11 in the Bill would see asylum seekers who come to Britain via unauthorised routes – such as in small boats or by stowing away in trucks – blocked from being granted full refugee rights in the UK, regardless of how strong their claim is.

They would be granted a form of temporary status that affords them no access to benefits and no family reunion rights and be regularly re-assessed for removal.

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) has raised alarm over the plans, saying the Bill would breach the 1951 Refugee Convention.

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During the report stage of the Bill in the House of Lords last week, peers voted to delete this clause, with 204 against and 126 for.

Peers also rejected Clause 9 of the Bill, which would grant the Home Secretary the power to strip a person of their British citizenship without notice if she believed it was in the interests of national security, diplomacy or “otherwise in the public interest”. This clause was voted down by 209 to 193.

Mr Solomon said this was a “victory for compassion, humanity and the rights of refugees”.

He said: “Peers aren’t prepared to see this Government undermine a key principle of refugee protection – that we should not discriminate against refugees based on how they travel.

“People desperately fleeing war and persecution should always have a fair hearing on British soil.

“We urge the Government to take heed of what has happened in the Lords today and remove this harmful clause from the Bill.”

Sonya Sceats, chief executive at Freedom from Torture, said it was time for the Government to “abandon these cruel proposals and cease their inhumane demonisation of people fleeing torture, war and persecution”.

The Bill will now return to the House of Commons, where it is expected to be voted on again within weeks.

Responding to the latest Home Office figures, Kevin Foster, immigration minister under Ms Patel, said the Government sought to “fix our country’s approach to illegal entry to the UK and asylum by making the tough decisions to end the overt exploitation of our laws and UK taxpayers”.

He said: “We know there is no simple solution to this problem, but our new plan for immigration will deliver the fair but firm system the British people have repeatedly voted for.”

The Home Office has been contacted for comment.

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