Queen's Speech: 'Immigration plans address public concern over illegitimate asylum seekers'

11 May 2021, 18:38

By Fiona Jones

Ex-Border Force officer Chris Hobbs points out that the Government's new legislation to discourage migrants from crossing the English Channel reflects public opinion - but explains why he is not confident it will work.

Government plans to overhaul the asylum system have been branded “cruel and unfair”, with campaigners arguing that they “slam the door in the face” of people who could be in urgent need of protection.

Immigration reforms announced in the Queen’s Speech on Tuesday include proposals to refuse any asylum the right to refugee status in Britain if they have passed through a safe country before reaching the UK.

The speech confirms the Home Secretary's intention to implement the New Plan for Immigration, which will see any refugees who arrive on UK shores through unauthorised routes denied protection - they instead will be regularly reassessed for removal to save countries they travelled through.

Mr Hobbs told LBC's Tom Swarbrick that he is "not sure" the measures will discourage migrants from coming to the UK.

He continued: "I think Priti Patel is under huge pressure to do something because if you look at the red wall collapse, for example, many of those who defected the Conservatives cited immigration as a reason why.

"I think there is within the country a body of opinion saying something needs to be done. How effective this is going to be, I do have my doubts, it relies on the cooperation of other countries to take back people who have arrived here, I'm not sure they're going to be willingly forthcoming."

Read more: Queen's Speech: Government's post-pandemic agenda set out in Lords

He pointed out that dubious countries would leave Italy and Greece "absolutely overwhelmed" when dealing with asylum seekers.

Mr Hobbs further commented on public perception of asylum seekers: "The other issue that does concern people is the differentiation between those who are seeking asylum and those who are basically fleeing poverty, who are coming to this country for a better way of life but aren't necessarily being persecuted because of race, religion, nationality, political belief, etc.

"There is no doubt Brexit swung the issue of immigration so what we really need is a fair method. I've met asylum seekers. When you meet a genuine one it hits you right between the eyes."

Tom asked what can happen if to people whose applications are rejected, to which Mr Hobbs responded: "Can they be returned to the country from whence they came? I don't think it happens that frequently. It is something Priti Patel is seeking to tackle but I think the bottom line is public opinion will say that if they're not genuine we don't want them here."

The Queen said that under the New Plan for Immigration legislation, measures would be “brought forward to establish a fairer immigration system that strengthens the United Kingdom’s borders and deters criminals who facilitate dangerous and illegal journeys”.

Read more: Queen's Speech: The laws the government will try to pass in 2021

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