Cabinet and MPs to hear details of small boats bill that has ‘pushed boundaries of international law’ – UK politics live | Politics

Jack Straw, the former Labour home secretary, has said that Rishi Sunak’s small boats bill would turn the UK into a “pariah amongst western European states”. As the Telegraph reports, told Sky News:

This latest measure which is to try and override all the international obligations and turn ourselves into a kind of pariah amongst western European states is not going to work anyway, I promise you.

We will in a year, 18 months’ time, when there is a general election, Mr Sunak will be very, very embarrassed about the fact that the numbers may have come down a bit but they have not stopped and there are all sorts of reasons for that.

Suella Braverman, the home secretary, has issued a video statement about her “stop the boats” bill. She says:

This bill will mean that if you come here illegally, you will not be able to stay. You will be detained and removed to your home country if safe, or a safe third country, like Rwanda. Enough is enough. We must stop the boats.

Good morning. In December last year Rishi Sunak told MPs that the government would “introduce new legislation to make unambiguously clear that if you enter the UK illegally you should not be able to remain here” and today we are getting the detail. Sunak seems to think that this could drastically reduce the number of people who cross the Channel in small boats hoping to claim asylum in the UK. But experts in the asylum field are sceptical, because international law makes it hard to remove asylum seekers once they have arrived and a previous attempt to do this failed.

Here is our story by my colleague Rajeev Syal.

And this is from my colleague Archie Bland, who in his First Edition briefing (you can sign up here) says that in recent years the Conservatives have tried at least 43 initiatives to stop small boat crossings.

Overnight some papers have been briefed on what the new legislation will say, and the Times reports that the bill will say the home secretary has a duty to remove people who arrive in the UK illegally wanting to claim asylum that generally overrides human rights laws protecting their right to stay. The paper says:

The home secretary will be under a legal duty to remove nearly all asylum seekers who arrive on small boats and there will be a cap on refugee numbers, under new plans.

The duty will take precedence over human rights and modern slavery claims and there will be new powers to enable the mass detention of tens of thousands of people every year before their removal. There will be constraints on the rights of migrants to use a judicial review to challenge decisions.

The illegal migration bill will make exceptions only for unaccompanied children and those suffering “grave” illnesses.

In the Daily Telegraph Charles Hymas says ministers admit this may be legally problematic. He reports:

It can also be revealed that it will be stated in the Bill that the new laws may not be compliant with the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), although ministers believe that they are.

It is thought to be the first time an immigration Bill has carried such a conditional qualification.

Furthermore, the legislation will give the Home Secretary powers to counter European court injunctions, like the one which last summer blocked the first deportation flight of Channel migrants to Rwanda.

Suella Braverman, the home secretary, told the Telegraph that the government has “pushed the boundaries of international law” to tackle the problem. She said:

We must stop the boats and that’s what our bill will do. No more sticking plasters or shying away from the difficult decisions.

Myself and the prime minister have been working tirelessly to ensure we have a bill that works – we’ve pushed the boundaries of international law to solve this crisis … If you come here illegally it must be that you cannot stay.

But there is an obvious risk; the boundaries of international law may push back. Some lawyers argue that the only strategy that would allow Sunak to implement this policy without being defeated in the court would be for the UK to withdraw from international obligations like the European convention on human rights. And this is what some Tories want him to do. But the ECHR is integral to the Good Friday agreement, as well as being part of the post-Brexit trade agreement with with EU, and withdrawing would create a whole new Brexit/Northern Ireland crisis.

Here is the agenda for the day.

Morning: Rishi Sunak chairs cabinet.

10am: Dame Rachel de Souza, children’s commissioner for England, gives evidence to the Commons education committee about persistent absence at schools.

11am: Rachel Reeves, the shadow chancellor, gives a speech on business taxation.

11.30am: Steve Barclay, the health secretary, takes questions in the Commons.

After 12.30pm: Suella Braverman, the home secretary, gives a statement to MPs about the government legislation to stop small boat crossings.

Late afternoon/early evening: Sunak holds a press conference about his asylum plans.

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