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Rwanda partnership just the kind of radical, but rational, policy we need, says Spalding-area MP

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In his weekly Hayes in the House column, MP Sir John Hayes talks about immigration...

Last year saw 28,526 illegal immigrants cross the English Channel, the vast majority being young men.

Their arrival presents an existential question as to our credibility as a sovereign
nation – for if a country cannot control its borders, what can it control?

MP Sir John Hayes (56271066)
MP Sir John Hayes (56271066)

Citizenship, security and justice are intrinsically bound to the principle of sovereign borders, so a radical reform of our broken asylum system is needed in order to end this ever-escalating problem.

Britain has long provided a safe haven for those fleeing persecution – and so we should. The care for Ukrainians fleeing Putin’s assault, including the work being done here locally, has my
enthusiastic support.

The proper process, which Ukrainian refugees are lawfully following, stands in stark contrast to the waves of economic migrants who, after travelling through safe places, are illegally smuggled across the Channel by people traffickers. To get to grips with the Channel crisis, the recently announced Migration and Economic Development Partnership with Rwanda is just the kind of radical, but rational, policy we need.

Since the Channel crisis began, the Common Sense Group of Parliamentarians, which I lead, has been asking the Government for a comprehensive strategy, of the kind employed successfully by the Australians, to deter illegal immigrants. With nine out of every ten arrival being a working-age man, the new partnership means that any such illegal migrant will be sent abroad for their claim to be processed and, if successful, to stay and receive up to five years of resettlement support.

Offshore processing was the lynchpin of Australia’s ‘Operation Sovereign Borders’ which cut the number of crossings there from nearly 50,000 to a few hundred. It is the best means of deterring the lie peddled by people smugglers that theirs is a one-way ticket to avoid lawful entry into Britain. Removing this ‘pull’ factor is essential to deter desperate people setting out to sea in the first place.

For those that do come, processing claims fairly and quickly offshore is reasonable and right.

However, predictably, such common sense has provoked a shrill response from bourgeois liberal power brokers, betraying their instinctive distain for British nationhood.

Their prejudiced view of Rwanda doesn’t match the facts. Actually, it is a remarkable success story, with economic growth outpacing nearly all of its African neighbours and a well-regarded level of administrative efficiency (especially evident as 60% of its population has been vaccinated, in a continent which struggles with universal healthcare).

What’s more, having been rated by the United Nations Refugee Council as having some of the “most progressive policies worldwide to support refugees”, Rwanda, with international approval, has already welcomed 130,000 asylum seekers from Africa, Asia and elsewhere. Its exceptional performance in these matters will be bolstered by £120million of UK financial support. What’s being done is a humane response to the Channel crisis.

Opponents are tellingly silent when asked for alternative weapons to combat the human traffickers’ evil campaign. Presumably, they either support porous borders or have no better policy to offer.

The initiative to end illegal immigration, echoing the Australian approach, includes reforms to Border Force, offshore processing and millions of pounds of investment in detention centres.

However, success will also require international co-operation, effective command and control, and strategic communications.

Nations must be able to decide who comes and who stays within their bounds. For too long our borders have been breached, taking back control means an end to the dark days of Britain being marketed as the destination of choice by people smugglers who exploit the weaknesses of our system to do their wicked work.

At last, there is a plan to mend what’s broken.

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