Priti Patel vows to overhaul ‘broken’ asylum system


Priti Patel today vowed to stop people ‘taking our country for a ride’ by overhauling the ‘broken’ asylum system and cracking down on migrant crossings.

The Home Secretary pledged the ‘biggest overhaul in decades’ as she warned that the current arrangements are not ‘firm or fair’.

In her keynote speech to Tory conference, Ms Patel said that toughening enforcement and preventing abuse of the rules was the best way to ‘protect the vulnerable’.

The Cabinet minister also lashed out at Labour MPs berating her over her strong stance on law and order issues, saying she would not change tack just because she did not ‘conform’ to their idea of the views ethnic minorities should hold.  

Ms Patel told the conference, being held virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic, that ‘do gooders and lefty lawyers and the Labour Party’ had to stop ‘defending the indefensible’ on asylum system.

‘We will protect those most in need and put the rights of those who respect the rules above those who take our country for a ride,’ she said. 

The impassioned speech came after a furious row over the leaking of ‘blue sky’ ideas for reforming asylum arrangements and stemming migrant crossings.

Proposals have been floated including introducing a processing centre on Ascension Island, 4,000 miles away, and even using wave machines in the Channel.

However, government sources have insisted the ideas were only ever considered in brainstorming sessions, and complained that they are being leaked to damage ministers. 

Border Force brings a group of would-be migrants back to shore in the Channel last month 

In her keynote speech to Tory conference, Ms Patel said that toughening enforcement and preventing abuse of the rules was the best way to 'protect the vulnerable'

In her keynote speech to Tory conference, Ms Patel said that toughening enforcement and preventing abuse of the rules was the best way to ‘protect the vulnerable’

Patel hits out at ‘disrespect’ of Cenotaph during protests 

Priti Patel took aim at the tactics of Black Lives Matter and Extinction Rebellion protesters today as she criticised the ‘hooliganism and thuggery’ seen on the country’s streets.

Social media video clips showed police in Westminster having objects hurled at them by anti-racist campaigners earlier this year, while a statue of Sir Winston Churchill had to be boarded up to protect it from vandalism during the Black Lives Matter protests.

In Bristol, those taking to the streets as part of the protests, sparked by the death of George Floyd in the US, tore down a statue of Edward Colston, who made his wealth through the slave trade.

There was also widespread condemnation last month when Extinction Rebellion climate change protesters blockaded the printing presses of national newspapers.

Ms Patel, addressing the virtual Conservative Party conference on Sunday, said there was ‘no excuse’ for the behaviour shown.

She said police had the ‘backing of the Government, backing of our party, our Government and our Prime Minister’ in their efforts to police the demonstrations.

She told members: ‘This Government will always defend the right to protest.

‘That right is a fundamental pillar of our democracy, but the hooliganism and thuggery we have seen is not – it is indefensible.

‘There is no excuse for pelting flares at brave police officers, for throwing bikes at police horses, for disrespecting the Cenotaph or vandalising the statue of Sir Winston Churchill, one of the greatest protectors of our freedoms who has ever lived.

‘It is not acceptable for mobs to tear down statues and cause criminal damage across our streets.

‘And it is not acceptable for thugs to assault our police officers, just for doing their job.’

She said the Government had already agreed to double the maximum sentence for assaults on emergency workers and confirmed she was working with chief constables to ensure their officers ‘have the tools, support and the powers they need’ to police such incidents.

Ms Patel also paid tribute to ‘hero’ Pc Andrew Harper, who died when he became entangled in a tow rope as he tried to stop quad bike thieves, and Sergeant Matt Ratana, who was shot as he prepared to search a suspect who was handcuffed.

She vowed to work with Pc Harper’s widow, Lissie Harper, to ‘ensure anyone who kills an emergency worker gets the sentence they deserve’.

 

Ms Patel said that under the Conservatives the UK ‘has and always will provide sanctuary when the lights are being switched off on people’s liberties’.

‘A fair asylum system should provide safe haven to those fleeing persecution, oppression or tyranny,’ she said. 

‘But ours doesn’t. Because our asylum system is fundamentally broken. And we have a responsibility to act.’

Ms Patel said: ‘From the expulsion of Ugandan Asians from a repressive regime, to proudly resettling more Syrian refugees than any other EU country, to supporting campaigners fleeing political persecution in Hong Kong.

‘Under Conservative leadership, the United Kingdom has and always will provide sanctuary when the lights are being switched off on people’s liberties.

‘So, I will introduce a new system that is firm and fair.

‘Fair and compassionate towards those who need our help. Fair by welcoming people through safe and legal routes.

‘But firm because we will stop the abuse of the broken system.

‘Firm, because we will stop those who come here illegally making endless legal claims to remain.

‘And firm, because we will expedite the removal of those who have no claim for protection.

‘After decades of inaction by successive governments, we will address the moral, legal, practical problems with this broken system. Because what exists now is neither firm nor fair.

‘And I will bring forward legislation to deliver on that commitment. I will take every necessary step to fix this broken system. Amounting to the biggest overhaul of our asylum system in decades.’

The Home Secretary promised ‘accelerate’ the operational response to illegal migration.

She said: ‘We will continue to hunt down the criminal gangs who traffic people into our country.

‘I will continue to use the full force of our outstanding National Crime Agency and intelligence agencies to go after them.

‘We will make more immediate returns of those who come here illegally and break our rules, every single week.

‘And we will explore all practical measures and options to deter illegal migration.’

Ms Patel went on: ‘As for those defending the broken system – the traffickers, the do gooders, the leftie lawyers, the Labour Party – they are defending the indefensible.

‘And that is something I will never do.

‘If at times it means being unpopular on Twitter. I will bear it.

‘If at times it means Tony Blair’s spin doctor mocking my accent. So be it.

‘And if at times it means Labour Members of Parliament attempting to silence me because I do not conform to their idea of what an ethnic minority woman should stand for. I will stomach it.

‘Because as Conservatives, we do not measure the depth of our compassion in two hundred and eighty characters on Twitter, but in the actions we take and the choices we make.’

Ms Patel also took aim at the tactics of Black Lives Matter and Extinction Rebellion protesters, as she criticised the ‘hooliganism and thuggery’ seen on the country’s streets.

Social media video clips showed police in Westminster having objects hurled at them by anti-racist campaigners earlier this year, while a statue of Sir Winston Churchill had to be boarded up to protect it from vandalism during the Black Lives Matter protests.

In Bristol, those taking to the streets as part of the protests, sparked by the death of George Floyd in the US, tore down a statue of Edward Colston, who made his wealth through the slave trade.

There was also widespread condemnation last month when Extinction Rebellion climate change protesters blockaded the printing presses of national newspapers.

Ms Patel said there was ‘no excuse’ for the behaviour shown.

She said police had the ‘backing of the Government, backing of our party, our Government and our Prime Minister’ in their efforts to police the demonstrations.

She told members: ‘This Government will always defend the right to protest.

‘That right is a fundamental pillar of our democracy, but the hooliganism and thuggery we have seen is not – it is indefensible.

Discarded clothes and and shoes were spotted strewn across the beach on Tuesday morning

Discarded clothes and and shoes were spotted strewn across the beach on Tuesday morning

‘There is no excuse for pelting flares at brave police officers, for throwing bikes at police horses, for disrespecting the Cenotaph or vandalising the statue of Sir Winston Churchill, one of the greatest protectors of our freedoms who has ever lived.

‘It is not acceptable for mobs to tear down statues and cause criminal damage across our streets.

‘And it is not acceptable for thugs to assault our police officers, just for doing their job.’

She said the Government had already agreed to double the maximum sentence for assaults on emergency workers and confirmed she was working with chief constables to ensure their officers ‘have the tools, support and the powers they need’ to police such incidents.

Ms Patel also paid tribute to ‘hero’ Pc Andrew Harper, who died when he became entangled in a tow rope as he tried to stop quad bike thieves, and Sergeant Matt Ratana, who was shot as he prepared to search a suspect who was handcuffed.

She vowed to work with Pc Harper’s widow, Lissie Harper, to ‘ensure anyone who kills an emergency worker gets the sentence they deserve’.

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