President Macron and Rishi Sunak shake hands at UK-France summit
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Rishi Sunak’s small boats crackdown is set to face opposition from Tory backbenchers. Conservative MP Caroline Noakes has revealed she will not be voting for the Illegal Migration Bill, saying she has “absolute horror at the prospect”.
The legislation goes to the Commons for its second reading today which is the first chance for MPs to vote on it.
Former home secretary Priti Patel is also reportedly considering a potentially explosive intervention over the issue.
Romsey and Southampton North MP Ms Noakes told Times Radio: “I’ve made that clear to my whip, I can’t vote for this. I didn’t vote for the last one, I won’t be voting for this one.
“I might be an outlier in my party, but I think we have an absolute duty to treat people humanely to keep people safe. I have absolute horror at the prospect.”
Ms Noakes said she was concerned the legislation could see children and families being detained and deported
She said: “My concern in the first instance about this bill is that it’s removing protections for pregnant women, removing protections for families.
“I am deeply troubled at the prospect of a policy which seeks to criminalise children, pregnant women, families and remove them to Rwanda.
“I didn’t vote for the last nationality and borders bill, that hasn’t achieved its aim in reducing crossings.
“In fact, we’ve seen them increase, and I fail to see what this legislation is going to do to act as a deterrent.”
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt yesterday did not rule out the prospect of children being detained under plans to stop Channel migrant crossings.
He said “special arrangements” would be made for children, but would not be drawn on if the Government will effectively overturn a ban – put in place by the Tory-Lib Dem coalition – on minors being detained in relation to immigration cases.
Tory former justice secretary Sir Robert Buckland told GB News he did not think it was “right” to “treat children in that inhumane way”.
Labour will also be voting against the legislation, which will be debated by MPs today.
But the Prime Minister over the weekend defended his asylum policy amid a BBC impartiality row after Gary Lineker branded it “immeasurably cruel” and compared the language used with 1930s Germany.
He said: “Forty-five thousand people crossed the channel illegally last year, many of whom have been exploited or trafficked by criminal gangs, putting their lives in danger.
“We need to break this cycle of misery once and for all and the policy we set out this week I believe aims to do just that. It is not only the fair and moral thing to do, it is also the compassionate thing to do.”
The plans, announced last Tuesday, would see migrants who arrive in the UK through unauthorised means deported and given a lifetime ban from returning.
Anyone who crosses the English Channel in a small boat would only be eligible for asylum in a “safe” third country, such as Rwanda.
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.
It also places a duty on the Home Secretary to remove illegal entrants and it will “radically narrow the number of challenges and appeals that can suspend removal”.
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