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Tory councillor accused of making misleading statements about asylum seekers

26 Apr 2023 4 minute read
Cllr Maureen Powell

Martin Shipton

A Welsh Conservative councillor has been accused of making misleading statements about asylum seekers after alleging at a council meeting that many of them are criminals.

Cllr Maureen Powell, who represents the Pen Y Fal ward on Monmouthshire County Council, was rebuked by the Labour-controlled authority’s deputy leader for comments she made during a debate about the UK Government’s plan to bar migrants who arrive on small boats from claiming asylum.

Labour councillor Steven Garrett proposed a motion saying: “This council is appalled by the UK Government’s illegal immigration bill which proposes to detain and later remove anyone who arrives in the UK on a small boat, meaning the Home Office will not consider any of their asylum claims regardless if they have fled war or persecution.

“These people seeking sanctuary will then be deported back to the country they have fled from or a ‘safe’ third country. This third country could be Rwanda, or another country deemed safe by the UK Government, potentially with a questionable record on human rights.

“This ill-thought out and inhumane legislation will punish the most vulnerable people from across the world. Questions have been raised surrounding the legality of the bill and whether it is compliant with the European Convention on Human Rights and consistent with the 1951 Refugees Convention. The Prime Minister has also stated in writing that if you come to the UK illegally ‘You cannot benefit from our modern slavery protections’.

“This council also notes and condemns the dangerous and dehumanising language which has been used to support this Bill. This rhetoric cultivates and provides a platform for a culture of abuse, racism and even violence against refugees, asylum seekers and people from black, Asian and minority ethnic communities.

“As an aspiring county of sanctuary, this council and the people of Monmouthshire have opened their hearts and homes and welcomed and accepted refugees and asylum seekers for decades, particularly in recent times following the Ukraine war. This has made our county a more interesting, diverse, and tolerant place.

“This council condemns the action of the UK Government in bringing forward this legislation and calls upon the Prime Minister and his ministers to withdraw these egregious proposals.

“We call upon the leader of the council to write to the Prime Minister in the strongest possible terms to outline our concerns.”

Crime

During the debate, Cllr Powell, who is also a member of Abergavenny Town Council, said the proposal was “one-sided” and went on to state: “Not everyone who tries to come into this country is a genuine refugee or asylum seeker.

“There are quite a lot of them that come here just to try to use our facilities and a lot of them turn to crime. I know of one particular family who were robbed very badly by so-called asylum seekers. So you’ve got to look at it both ways.

“I’m sure that we’re not going to turn away the genuine asylum seekers, but unfortunately so many of those that do come in their little boats aren’t genuine asylum seekers.”

Cllr Powell said she would not support the motion.

Evidence

Deputy council leader Cllr Paul Griffiths, a former senior special adviser to the First Minister, responded: “There is evidence on the nature of people who have been seeking asylum in Britain. It’s evidence that comes out of the broken process of adjudication. I say ‘broken’ because people wait years and years to have their case heard.

“But when their cases are heard, over three quarters of those cases are approved. So the impression given in this debate that a majority of asylum seekers are merely economic migrants, or in some way criminal, is a provocative suggestion. It breeds divisiveness in our communities and it is simply not borne out by the facts.

“So I ask that all of us base our statements on the data that’s available. These people overwhelmingly are not economic migrants.”

Last year an analysis of the UK Government’s data showed that 77% of the men, women and children who came across the Channel in small boats between January 2021 and March 2022 were likely to be refugees and would accordingly be allowed to remain in the UK if their claims were assessed.

Cllr Garrett’s motion was passed.


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Steve Duggan
Steve Duggan
9 months ago

Effective border control is not simply ignoring people completely and just kicking them back out of the country as soon as they arrive. But the Tories believe this will be a vote winner for them and will also cut costs,(Though shipping a few people here and there to Rwanda is hardly cost effective!). Processing people that come here is expensive business but any country with morals would seek to do it – it is the just and right thing to do. The UK government is full of rabid right wing ideologists who care little for anyone but themselves.

Philip Davies
Philip Davies
9 months ago
Reply to  Steve Duggan

Government is hardly ‘kicking people out of the country’. The trouble is that the system of assessing the merits of asylum claims has terminally broken down. We have ceased to be able to process prospective immigrants. Yet ‘Effective border control’ in your book obviously means uncontrolled immigration without any processing whatsoever – beyond a mere ideological tick-box exercise in virtue-signalling. How such a system of warped politicised ‘morality’ can be seen as an ethical policy I do not know. The present government’s struggles with this long-festering issue are generally unavailing, and they can be accused of weakly allowing the Left… Read more »

Steve Duggan
Steve Duggan
9 months ago

Ultimately the UK government is trashing human rights. It is not giving these people the right to a safe haven. There is no safe legitimate passage for them so they are forced to use people smugglers. There should be more well equipped and staffed processing stations in both the UK and France, paid for by both governments. The vast amount of these people are seeking refuge from poverty, war, terror and in the future climate change disaster they have a right to be heard and helped.

Rhufawn Jones
Rhufawn Jones
9 months ago
Reply to  Steve Duggan

The UK has often been directly and indirectly responsible for the political and economic collapse of so many of these countries where refugees are fleeing from. Particularly in the middle east.

Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
9 months ago

How do you know that they ‘are deliberately destroying their personal documents’? You don’t: you’re just parroting the same old right-wing racist trash that the racist tories spout out to supposedly justify their racist policies on asylum. The fact that you use phrases like ‘cheat’ and ‘supporting the undeserving’ in the same sentence also speaks volumes. The reason why asylum seekers are desperate enough to try and reach Britain in small boats is because the racist tories have closed off any and all legal routes to asylum in the UK in order to please their racist tory voters. If the… Read more »

Philip Davies
Philip Davies
9 months ago
Reply to  Barry Pandy

More of the usual Leftist piffle about wicked British government not providing proper safe and legal routes for immigration. And the same nonsense being peddled fantastically portraying the totally upright character of everyone involved in the utterly criminal people smuggling racket. I’m not about to do the research for you that indicates the opposite of all this is true, although this information is not hard to find. But you are of that political attitude that is only comfortable with its own assumptions and political prejudices. (Surprising isn’t it? Lefties can be prejudiced too!). You’ll never dare challenge your assumptions with… Read more »

Nobby Tart
Nobby Tart
9 months ago

I think Wales Online is more up your street

Lazar Ionescu
Lazar Ionescu
9 months ago

Beware of the extreme left too – (who deported my ancestors from Bessarabia and tortured them in the soviet gulags.) We need a balanced society – not too left, and not too right.

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