Sunak plan to cap number of refugees coming to the UK ‘humane’ says Welsh Secretary
Rishi Sunak’s immigration plans, including placing a cap on the number of refugees accepted by the UK each year, are “humane” according to the new Welsh Secretary.
Former Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a number of measures including withholding of aid from some of the world’s poorest countries if they refuse to take back failed asylum seekers, in what is being seen as an arms race of immigration policy with leadership rival Liz Truss.
But South Swindon MP Robert Buckland, who was appointed Welsh Secretary by Boris Johnson two and a half weeks ago, said that the UK Government was “hospitable, generous and warm-hearted when it comes to refugees”.
The former Secretary of State for Justice, who is backing Rishi Sunak for the party’s leadership, said that the plan did not “get away from the compassionate nature of our country”.
Announcing his immigration plan yesterday, Rishi Sunak said that there was “absolutely nothing racist” about wanting to stop people from entering the UK.
He has launched a 10-point plan which includes “making our Rwanda Partnership work,” “sending failed asylum seekers and foreign criminals back home” and “holding the French to account with clear targets for stopping boats”.
“Law-abiding citizens are dismayed when they see boat after boat full of illegal immigrants coming from the safe country of France with our sailors and coastguards seemingly powerless to stop them,” he said.
In an interview on GB News, Welsh Secretary Buckland defended the plan, saying: “Let’s not forget that before a person is deemed a refugee there is a due process of law. They are an asylum seeker first and then a determination is made about their status.
“I think it’s really important that he [Rishi Sunak] focuses upon the fundamental definition which is in a convention that we signed up to 70 years ago. And I think it’s important as well as he does that we focus on enforcement of the rules.
“I think our country is hospitable, generous and warm-hearted when it comes to refugees, as we’ve seen with Ukraine and other countries. But many people tell me that they want the rules enforced, if people have exhausted their applications and no longer should be here, then action needs to be taken in order to deport them.
“But I think the idea that Rishi is coming up with I think forms the basis of a sensible package incentivising other countries to take back people who’ve come here unlawfully.”
He added that Rishi Sunak was proposing a parliamentary vote every year on the number of refugees to be accepted in the UK with of course an exception for emergencies, such as the one we saw with Ukraine that actually gives Parliament a big say in the process.
“We’ve had lots of debates about what is a reasonable number with ALF Dubs and others putting amendments to parliamentary bills, why not actually make that a formality and make that a part of the process within Parliament whereby we have this proper debate about what a reasonable number should look like,” Robert Buckland said.
“I think the important point is that involving parliament in this decision-making makes it a much more accountable process. And also there will be exceptions, of course for emergencies, such as the one we’ve seen this year. I don’t think this gets away from the compassionate nature of our country.
“In fact, the details of Rishi’s plans about getting people out of hotels and providing more beds actually provide a much better and clearer framework for refugees and asylum seekers. It is, I think, a humane, compassionate and sensible approach to an issue that does cause concern due to the exploitation of innocent people by criminal gangs.”
Rival leadership candidate Liz Truss has claimed his immigration plans could breach domestic human rights law.
A source close to Ms Truss said: “As Foreign Secretary, Liz worked closely with Priti Patel to formulate the generation-defining Rwanda policy.
“As Prime Minister she will do whatever it takes to protect our borders. She’s been frustrated with the ECHR and its mission creep.
“She is prepared to take a tougher stance and deliver the reforms required so the ECHR works for Britain.”
Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies tweeted this morning in supporting of a tougher immigration policy.
“One of the many problems with Labour’s plan to scrap the Rwanda partnership and try to infiltrate people smuggling gangs, is that it does not undermine the business model of the gangs,” he said.
“If we take down a gang, another will spring up, because the demand will still be there.”
Support our Nation today
For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.