MPs have said that the government’s plan to send migrants to Rwanda “appears to have gone unnoticed” by those attempting to cross the English Channel and that there is “no clear evidence” that it will work.
The Commons Home Affairs Committee also accused ministers of seeking “radical new policies that might make good headlines,” and stated that the “greatest deterrent” to Channel crossings would be to prevent migrants from “ever leaving France.”
According to preliminary figures, over 14,000 migrants have made the 20-mile journey this year. The total for 2022 could reach 60,000.
The military took command of the operation in April, with a review scheduled for January.
After last-minute legal rulings blocked the first scheduled deportation flight last month, the government has not ruled out leaving Europe’s human rights framework.
The committee revealed their findings regarding the issue:
- The government’s response to the crisis has been characterised by “inattention and poor decision making,” which has exacerbated problems and “undermined public trust” in the asylum system and border control.
- The French government’s “perceived reluctance” to find a solution hasn’t helped matters.
- It was “right” to drop plans to push back migrants at sea as it was hard to see how the benefits of such a tactic would outweigh “its potential costs in the form of risk to migrants’ and officials’ lives and damage to the UK’s reputation”
- The “most effective deterrent” to Channel crossings would be preventing migrants from “ever leaving France.”
- Attempts to reach returns agreements with EU states to return migrants to safe countries have “completely failed” since the UK exited the Dublin Regulation arrangements when freedom of movement expired.
- The Home Office has a “worrying trend” of making announcements before “detailed policy has been worked through, tested, or even agreed upon between government departments.”
Dame Diana Johnson, chair of the committee, stated that policy development has “shifted away from evidence-based, tested, and cost-effective solutions that respond to changing demands.”
“Instead, we have a search for radical new policies that may make good headlines but do little to stem the flow of people willing to risk their lives to reach the UK by any means necessary,” Dame Diana continued.
“The United Kingdom requires a realistic asylum system. It must be fair, efficient, and recognise the United Kingdom’s international obligations.”