Priti Patel says migrant crisis 'will take time to fix' as 25k reach UK

22 November 2021, 19:35 | Updated: 22 November 2021, 20:22

Priti Patel clashes with Nick Thomas-Symonds over migrant crisis

By Patrick Grafton-Green

Priti Patel has defended her efforts to tackle the migrant crisis as the number of Channel crossings soar.

Amid accusations of "empty rhetoric and broken promises", the Home Secretary told MPs: "This problem will take time to fix and... there is no silver bullet."

It comes as new analysis showed the number of people who have made the dangerous journey in small boats this year is now three times the total for the whole of 2020.

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During questions in the House of Commons, Labour's shadow Home Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said Ms Patel had "repeatedly made pledges that the route across the Channel will be unviable, but as usual with this government it is all empty rhetoric and broken promises".

"The Home Secretary has blamed everyone but herself," he added.

He pointed out that "the Government has already spent over £200 million of taxpayers' money on deals with the French authorities that are not working".

Ms Patel's proposed Nationality and Borders Bill was "not worthy of the support of the opposition" as it "breaches the refugee convention, reduces protections for victims of modern slavery and will not help the situation in the Channel", he said.

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He accused her of losing "control of this dangerous situation".

The Home Secretary dismissed some of his comments as "nonsense" and accused Labour of always standing up for "unlimited migration".

She insisted the Government was working on a long-term plan which would address concerns.

On the proposed Bill, she said: "The long-term solution to breaking the model, to reforming the asylum system, to deterring illegal migration, addressing the underlying pull factors of the UK's asylum system, it will introduce a one-stop appeal process... it'll ensure that asylum claims can be heard offshore in a third country."

She told MPs: "This problem will take time to fix and that there is no silver bullet. The only solution is wholesale reform of our asylum system."

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"This is a whole-of-Government effort, there is no single solution to fixing a global migration crisis," she added.

At least 886 people succeeded in reaching the UK on Saturday, bringing the total for the year to more than 25,600, according to analysis of official Home Office data.

Small boat arrivals in 2021 now stand at more than three times the figure for the whole of 2020, when 8,417 people crossed the Dover Strait.

A task force led by minister Steve Barclay has been drafted in to support efforts to stem the rising number of people arriving on Britain's shores.

However, despite the increasing numbers of small boat arrivals, the UK continues to see far fewer boat arrivals and asylum claims than many of its European counterparts.