By Andrew Macaskill
LONDON, March 7 (Reuters) – Britain’s government will on Tuesday set out plans for a new law barring those entering the country through unofficial routes from claiming asylum, in a bid to stop tens of thousands of migrants arriving on its shores in small boats.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has made stopping boat arrivals one of his five key priorities after the number of migrants arriving on the south coast of England soared to more than 45,000 last year, with around 90% applying for asylum.
The new legislation will mean anyone who arrives on small boats will be prevented from claiming asylum and deported to so-called safe third countries, Sunak wrote in an article in The Sun newspaper on Tuesday.
“Those arriving on small boats aren’t directly fleeing a war-torn country or facing an imminent threat to life. Instead, they have travelled through safe, European countries before crossing the Channel,” he said.
“The fact that they can do so is unfair on those who come here legally and enough is enough … This new law will send a clear signal that if you come to this country illegally, you will be swiftly removed.”
Just under two-thirds of those who arrive on small boats are granted asylum or another form of humanitarian protection, Home Office figures show.
The Refugee Council charity said tens of thousands of genuine refugees who would previously have been granted asylum would be “locked up like criminals” under the plans, which would “shatter” Britain’s commitments under the UN refugee convention.
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