Senior Tory MPs representing more than 60 backbenchers have urged the government to take action on the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) without waiting for an election manifesto. They proposed introducing legislation that would explicitly state that the ECHR does not apply to migrants who enter the UK illegally on small boats. This comes ahead of a Supreme Court ruling on the government’s plan to deport illegal migrants to Rwanda, after the Court of Appeal deemed the country unsafe for asylum seekers.
Over the past five years, the number of migrants crossing the English Channel in small boats has exceeded 100,000. On a single day this year, over 750 people crossed the Channel in 14 boats. In response to this, the MPs called for legislation to reinforce control over the UK’s borders and address the issue of illegal migration.
Deportation flights to Rwanda have been suspended since last June when the first removal of asylum seekers was blocked by the European Court of Human Rights. If flights to Rwanda are blocked again, up to one-third of the Cabinet is expected to pressure Chancellor Rishi Sunak to prioritize leaving the ECHR in the next Tory election campaign.
Tory MPs Mark Francois and Miriam Cates also emphasized the need to disapply relevant parts of the ECHR and possibly withdraw from or renegotiate the UK’s relationship with the convention. They called for prompt legislative action to assert control over the UK’s borders and minimize the influence of Strasbourg judges on immigration policies.
While ministers are confident they will win the Supreme Court case, they have been advised that the government cannot appeal to the European court if they lose. The Home Office has also recently announced the appointment of Bas Javid as the new director general of immigration enforcement at the Home Office, effective November.
The record number of crossings in the English Channel highlights the urgency of addressing the issue of illegal migration. Last year saw a 60% increase compared to the previous year, and Border Force expects the next three months to be the busiest period for migrant crossings, similar to last year.