The Home Secretary has today set out her commitment to tackling illegal migration in the most significant overhaul of our asylum system in decades.
As she made clear in her statement, at the heart of our new plan for immigration is a simple principle: fairness. Access to the UK’s asylum system should be based on need, not the ability to pay people smugglers. If someone enters the UK illegally from a safe country such as France, where they should and could have claimed asylum, they are not seeking refuge from persecution, as is the intended purpose of the asylum system; instead, they are choosing the UK as their preferred destination and they are doing so at the expense of those with nowhere else to go.
Our system is collapsing under the pressures of parallel illegal routes to asylum, facilitated by criminal smugglers. The existence of parallel routes is deeply unfair, advantaging those with the means to pay smugglers over those in desperate need. The capacity of our asylum system is not unlimited, so the presence of economic migrants, which these illegal routes introduce, limit our ability to properly support others in genuine need of protection. This is manifestly unfair to those desperately waiting to be resettled in the UK. It is not fair to the British people either, whose taxes pay for vital public services and for an asylum system that has skyrocketed in cost - it is costing over £1 billion this year.
You can read the Home Secretary's statement to the Commons in full here, or watch my question to her above where I ask her to ensure that this plan will both tackle the criminal gangs that exploit vulnerable people and help to reduce the dangerous attempts to cross the channel in small boats, in favour of safe and legal routes.
This Government promised to take a common-sense approach to controlling immigration, legal and illegal, and we will deliver on that promise. The UK is playing its part to tackle the inhumanity of illegal migration. Our new plan builds on the work already done to take back control of our borders, building a system that upholds our reputation as a country where criminality is not rewarded, but which is a haven for those in need. There are no quick fixes or shortcuts to success, but, as the Home Secretary said, this long-term plan, pursued doggedly, will fix our broken system.