Minister denies Priti Patel is 'failing' to sort out migrant crisis

17 November 2021, 09:48 | Updated: 17 November 2021, 14:13

By Patrick Grafton-Green

A government minister has denied Priti Patel is failing to sort out the migrant crisis, despite the Home Secretary admitting the Liverpool terror suspect was able to exploit Britain's "dysfunctional" asylum system.

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LBC's Nick Ferrari questioned International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan on what Ms Patel has achieved on migration, pointing out that the number of migrants making the trip across the Channel was increasing year-on-year.

When Nick told Ms Trevelyan that Ms Patel was "failing" as the numbers "go up and up and up", the Secretary of State repeatedly pointed to the "big challenge" of "dealing with these appalling criminal gangs" who "are doing their best to abuse the vulnerability" of migrants.

READ MORE: Liverpool bomber 'exploited' asylum loophole to stay in UK - Home Sec

READ MORE: Migrant Channel crossings could hit 'epidemic' levels, warns ex-Border Force chief

She added the Home Secretary was "pushing on to tackle them and deal with this appalling migration".

She said: "We are not a country that has closed its doors to asylum seekers, we always want to continue to provide safe harbour for those vulnerable families and individuals who want to be part of our UK family and to be contributors here in a safe place.

"The flip-side of that is that there are also these criminal gangs that are abusing both the trust and vulnerability of families."

Ms Trevelyan said Ms Patel was "working with many groups and EU countries" on the issue, including "working very closely with the French".

She insisted the system is "working in that we are fighting the gangs", adding "there are legitimate ways... to seek asylum in the UK and [Ms Patel] is continuing a build a much more robust system".

It comes after the Home Secretary, on a trip to Washington, is said to have told reporters: "The case in Liverpool was a complete reflection of how dysfunctional, how broken, the system has been in the past, and why I want to bring changes forward."

She added: "It’s a complete merry-go-round and it has been exploited. A whole sort of professional legal services industry has based itself on rights of appeal, going to the courts day-in day-out at the expense of the taxpayers through legal aid. That is effectively what we need to change."

"These people have come to our country and abused British values, abused the values of the fabric of our country and our society," she said.

The suspect in the Liverpool bomb attack, Emad Al Swealmeen, reportedly arrived in the UK from the Middle East in 2014 and had an application for asylum rejected the following year - but was still in the country six years later.