A Downing Street advisor has told the Sunday Express that Home Secretary Priti Patel’s deal with the East African country has boosted support for Boris Johnson’s premiership from Tory MPs, especially from the 2019 intake who won former Labour Red Wall seats.
It comes as a Savanta poll over the weekend showed that 47 percent of the public back the new policy to end the small boats crossings by illegal economic migrants while just 25.7 percent oppose it.
A Downing Street aide said: “We have seen plenty of supportive messages from MPs who were, two months ago, ready to put in letters. These same members understand that things have moved on.”
“We cannot downplay, especially for the 2019 intake, and Northern Research Group (of Tory MPs) in particular, how important the Home Secretary announcement was. We can now, at last, say we have taken the steps required to control illegal migration. “
“This was a huge issue in the last election; an issue we have now answered.”
Meanwhile, Conservatives from Red Wall seats who had seen their support collapsing because of the problem with the English Channel migrant crossings have come out strongly in support of Ms Patel.
Ipswich MP Tom Hunt, deputy chairman of the influential Common Sense Group of Tory MPs, said: “Offshore processing of migrants is the only way to tackle the problem of illegal migration across the Channel.
“It is good that the Government is finally getting a grip on the issue.”
Ashfield MP Lee Anderson, a former Labour activist, said: “I know there are colleagues that may oppose the Rwanda Agreement but I say there has been far too many deaths in the Channel and if this agreement helps put an end to the evil traffickers risking children’s lives then it must be supported.”
Dudley North MP Marco Longhi warned liberal Conservatives who might try to join Labour in opposing the move, he said: “Those colleagues of mine who might disagree and pontificate that this is wrong, this are invited to jump into their £60k Teslas, leave their plush mansions in the shires and come and visit the hard working-class people who I represent in Dudley who cannot get their children into social housing, schools of their choice or appointments at GPs while they know that £5M a day is spent on these illegal migrants in hotels they cannot afford. “
“This is profoundly unfair and the sooner we put a stop to this, through deterrence and legal channels, and look after our local people and the women and children fleeing the real war in Ukraine – the better.”
Bassetlaw MP Brendan Clarke-Smith said: “People are quite rightly sick and tired of our hospitality being abused and of those who seek to take advantage of our generosity through their criminality. This announcement will help put a stop to this and will enjoy the support of all those who believe in a fair asylum system.”
North West Leicestershire MP Andrew Bridgen said: “It’s clear we need to remove the incentives to defeat the traffickers in a very public way. The flights out of the UK will be deeply symbolic and will be our best weapon in deterring these dangerous crossings.”
But writing for the Sunday Express today, former Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage, who first raised the issue of the small boats crossings, warned that the UK sticking to international law on refugees and human rights might stop the Rwanda plan from happening.
He said: “Lawyers would have a field day in preventing flights on the grounds of abuse in Rwanda, whether it’s real or not. “
“Whilst the toughening of the government stance is important, we need Brexit to be completed. We must be free of European rules to really take back control of our borders.”
Meanwhile, UN Assistant High Commissioner for Refugees Gillian Triggs, an Australian left-wing academic, has attacked the UK Government for the move.
She said: “We are in an environment in which populist governments will appeal to their rightwing, anti-migrant sentiment and this would presumably be part of that.”
However, it has emerged that Ms Trigg, a member of the leftwing Green Party, has a record of wanting open borders and has even previously called for Sharia law to be allowed in her native Australia allowing Muslim men who divorce their wives by simply saying “I divorce you” three times.
In 2017 she said in an interview with Australian broadcaster ABC that she had been “radicalised” by working with asylum seekers and claimed that “everyone has a right to asylum”.
But, Fathi Bashagha, one of the rival Prime Ministers of Libya, who is expected to lead his country after peace talks, has come out in support of the UK’s new policy.
Currently, many of the economic migrants come in Europe via Libya crossing over to Italy with the country’s civil war and instability preventing action to stop it.
He told the Sunday Express: “Controlling borders is a priority for all nations. Action taken which deters dangerous journeys will be beneficial to both the nation and those attempting to enter.”
He added: “I will intensify efforts to combat terrorism and organized crime, to address the deteriorating security conditions and to secure our ports and borders.
“I very much hope the UK will engage with us and provide investment, training and share technology with our security forces. This will keep both of our nations safer.”
There has been a backlash from left-wing activist groups.
Robina Qureshi, director of the refugee homelessness charity Positive Action in Housing, said: “The refugee policy of this country should be clear by now.
“It’s not about saving refugees’ skins, it’s about saving this Government’s skin.”
However, the Home Office and Ms Patel have defended the move.
Ms Patel said she expected other countries to follow the UK’s example, while the Home Office insisted its approach was not in breach of refugee agreements.
Earlier, former child refugee and Labour peer Alf Dubs said ministers would face opposition in the Lords over the plan.
In an interview with The Guardian, Lord Dubs said the Government was attempting to “ride roughshod” over international agreements.
He said: “I think it’s a way of getting rid of people the Government doesn’t want, dumping them in a distant African country, and they’ll have no chance of getting out of there again.
“I think it’s a breach of the 1951 Geneva conventions on refugees. You can’t just shunt them around like unwanted people.”
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