PRITI Patel this morning vowed to “slam the door on dangerous criminals” with a fierce border crackdown.
The Home Secretary announced sweeping plans for a “fully digital border” by 2025 to make it easier to weed out convicts.
She also pledged to fix the UK’s “broken” immigration system – and took aim at migrants who “abuse our hospitality and generous spirit”.
In a wide-ranging keynote speech she said:
- Brits do not want their communities “changed beyond recognition”
- People on the left “do not speak for the silent majority” on immigration
- Protesters blocking immigration officials should think again
- Illegal boat crossings will likely increase during the summer months
Ms Patel promised to pursue “digital by default” strategy so the Government can count the amount of people coming to Britain.
Arrivals without a visa will be forced to apply for a US-style Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) so their criminal record can be checked.
But Ms Patel also said the e-border would make it easier for talented internationals to immigrate here under the post-Brexit points-based system.
Speaking this morning to the Bright Blue think tank the Home Secretary said the public “want a new system that works for the law-abiding majority and against those who hope to abuse our hospitality and generous spirit.”
She pledged to create the “world’s most effective border system” that “welcomes those most in need of sanctuary – but one that slams the door on dangerous criminals.”
Labour’s Nick Thomas-Symonds said the concept of e-borders is nothing new and blasted the Government’s record.
The shadow home secretary said: “The Home Secretary talks about a broken asylum system but it’s the Conservatives who have been in power for 11 years and are responsible for that.”
MANDATE FOR CHANGE
Ms also Patel lashed out at “parts of the political class” who she accused of treating concerns about immigration with “scorn and derision”.
She said public confidence in immigration had been “shot to pieces” and that frustration led to the 2016 Brexit vote and the 2019 Tory landslide – which she wielded as a mandate for “wholesale reform”.
But the hardline Cabinet minister lashed out at critics who brand her anti-immigration – pointing out her own British-Indian background.
Ms Patel said: “People across the country do not want their communities and way of life to be changed beyond recognition – and yet acknowledging this is not to be anti-immigration.
“Neither I, the PM, or our great country are anti-immigration. And to those who say that I am – they are wrong.”
GANGS PUT ON NOTICE
Ms Patel also used the speech to put foreign criminal gangs on notice the Government is “coming after them”.
The Home Secretary said her “hands will no longer be tied” by red tape making it tricky for her to deport illegal gangsters.
She fumed: “Allowing these repugnant gangs to continue to line their pockets is morally wrong and against our national interest… and we are coming after these gangs.”
The Home Office revealed that in the past 10 days more than 140 foreign criminals have been booted out of the country, bringing the total number this year to 700.
Earlier this month border officials were blocked from detaining two men in Glasgow by a crowd of protesters.
Today Ms Patel scolded the those who seek to disrupt immigration squads, warning they could be preventing “murderers and rapists” from being removed.
She also reiterated previous plans to hand more powers to border controls to stop migrants making perilous Channel crossings in small boats.
But she feared that in the warmer summer months more would be tempted to make the dangerous journey.
Plans to tighten laws to deny refugee status to any asylum seekers who have passed through a safe country before reaching the UK were unveiled at the Queen’s Speech.
The proposal was condemned by the United Nations and by charities who said it would be a betrayal of Britain’s historic tradition of providing protection to people fleeing persecution.
In an interview with Sky News’ Trevor Phillips on Sunday, Ms Patel defended the plan saying many asylum seekers arriving in the UK had been smuggled by people traffickers.
She said: “People that are being smuggled, they should be claiming asylum in the first safe country that they travel through – more often than not these are EU member states – rather than taking the risk of coming to the United Kingdom.”