Prime Minister Boris Johnson has hit out at migrants looking to enter the UK illegally as he told MPs “there is a price to pay” to settle in this country.
Mr Johnson stressed the Government is bringing forward new legislation that would mean people who attempt to enter the UK illegally will be penalised compared to those who enter through the official channels.
The Prime Minister told Parliament:
“We have brought forward the sovereign borders bill.
“Which of course will no longer make it possible for the law to treat someone who has come here illegally, in the same way, has someone who has come here legally.
“I think it is high time that distinction was made.
“people NEED to understand there is a price to pay if they come to this country in an illegal fashion.”
Last year, more than 8,500 people entered the UK illegally in small vessels crossing the English Channel: 87% of them were men and 74% were aged 18 to 39. The number this year now stands at 13,500.
Last month the Prime Minister also warned migrants trying to cross the Channel in boats that Britain will send them back to Europe.
The Prime Minister said:
“We will send you back.
“The UK should not be regarded as a place where you can automatically come to break the law by seeking to arrive illegally.
“If you come illegally you are an illegal immigrant and I’m afraid the law will treat you as such.”
However, it is unclear how many will be sent back until The Nationality and Borders Bill comes into full effect.
The Government say the Nationality and Borders Bill is the cornerstone of their New Plan for Immigration, delivering the most comprehensive reform in decades to fix the broken asylum system.
At the second reading of the Bill in Parliament in July, Conservative MP for Folkestone and Hythe Damian Collins said:
“We need to make it clear that illegal entry to the UK is not a shortcut to residency in this country. We need to make it clear to the people traffickers who prey on vulnerable people for profit that they will face tough sentences for bringing people illegally into this country. We need to make people think again before attempting these life-threatening crossings.
That is why it is right that the Bill addresses that. It will make it illegal for people to arrive in UK waters without permission, which it already is; increase the maximum sentences for people who are arriving in the country illegally from six months to four years; make it a criminal offence to knowingly arrive in the UK without permission; and introduce tough new sentences for people traffickers, so they know they will face lengthy prison sentences—up to life prison sentences—if they are involved in operating people trafficking rings.
These are the reforms we need.”
The Conservative MP for East Worthing and Shoreham, Tim Loughton suggests even more can be done and is calling on the French to allow British Border Force to return illegal migrants caught in British waters back to France. He said:
“Frankly, this is happening because the French Government have consistently failed to close off this route.
They could prevent more of those boats getting into the water in the first place; goodness knows we have given them enough resources and security co-operation. They could intercept them and take them back to French shores.
They could allow Border Force to take those who have been intercepted in British waters back to French shores.
The Home Affairs Committee has been reviewing this issue, and we have taken advice from international maritime lawyers who confirm that the French would be in their rights to do that.
They [the French] refuse to do so.”
On 20 July, MPs backed the second reading of the Nationality and Borders Bill, which makes arriving in the UK without permission a criminal offence. Once passed the Bill will mark a serious attempt to block illegal immigration, alongside the new post Brexit points based entry system.
It will make it easier to return some illegal asylum seekers more quickly, make some asylum seekers apply before they reach UK shores and give border officials powers to turn back boats in UK waters.