Home Secretary Suella Braverman has defended her stance that migrants crossing the Channel are “breaking the law” by claiming there is “no good reason” for them to be making the “treacherous” crossing.
She also defended the Government’s delay in getting many of its illegal migration measures off the ground, saying she would not give a deadline as to when flights to Rwanda would begin taking off.
Speaking to Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme, Ms Braverman denied asylum seekers who have crossed the Channel could be allowed to claim they made a “mistake” and be allowed to make a fresh claim.
“I don’t think that get paying a people smuggler thousands of pounds, risking your life in a flimsy dinghy with a thin piece of polystyrene as a life jacket, travelling at 2 am at night in freezing cold conditions, is a mistake,” she said.
“I think anyone who takes the journey is breaking the law. Anyone who procures that journey, offers it, or facilitates it is breaking the law. Anyone who does that is making a deliberate decision to come to the UK illegally. You don’t do that by mistake.”
She added that the UK needed a “robust legal framework” to discourage people from attempting to reach the UK when coming from safe countries “where they could claim asylum”.
“There is no good reason as to why they should be taking that treacherous journey with illegal smuggling gangs to come to the UK on a flimsy dinghy,” Ms Braverman continued.
She added that making it illegal to arrive in the UK via small boat crossings would “introduce a deterrent that people stopped taking the journey in the first place”.
The Government recently unveiled new legislation which aims to bar all asylum claims from those who come to the UK in small boats across the Channel.
Critics of the scheme have said it will do little to reduce Channel crossings, and could bar claims from people in genuine need of aslyum.
The Home Secretary also denied that it was “weird” that she had previously stated it was her “obsession” to see illegal arrivals flown to Rwanda, and defended delays to the scheme.
No migrants have been relocated to the country so far after the deal was signed last April by Ms Braverman’s predecessor Priti Patel.
Ms Braverman has since expanded the agreement with Rwanda to incorporate all those illegally entering the UK as opposed to solely asylum seekers.
“We are making very steady progress… I’m not going to give a deadline as to when flights will take off,” she said.
“We have to be realistic, We had a very strong victory in the High Court at the end of last year on Rwanda. We’ve now introduced legislation. We want to move as quickly as possible to relocate people living in the UK to Rwanda.”
Speaking during a visit to the country earlier this month, she said “there is every possibility that we can move quickly if we get a good line of judgment in our favour”.
A Home Office source said “we are certainly working towards getting the flights off before the summer”, adding that Suella Braverman acknowledged it was dependent on the pending legal battles.