Patel’s plans to process migrants offshore back on

The government is stepping up plans to combat waves of illegal immigration from across the Channel. A new bill will be introduced to Parliament that will automatically strip illegals of any future right to permanently reside in the United Kingdom. The government is also teaming up with Denmark “to tackle the pull factors” by processing all unauthorised migrants offshore.

The effective policy instrument was mooted a year ago, but the Tories quickly stepped away from the plans, dismissing them as “blue-sky thinking”.

But in the intervening period, arrivals from northern France and Belgium aboard flimsy crafts at the hands of unscrupulous people traffickers have skyrocketed. This weekend saw 315 boat people arrive without permission, bringing the total for the year up to 5,676. In 2019, the figure was 1,850. The number coming over by the end of the year is expected to easily top 20,000.

Home secretary Priti Patel has flattered to deceive as successive big statements have not led to any improvements on the ground. Earlier this month, it was discovered Border Force captains have volunteered to enter French Waters to pick up migrants floating over from France. A £28m handover to the French authorities to get them to properly patrol their side of the Channel has come to nothing.

Downing Street appears to finally recognise the problem has to be dealt with. A couple of weeks ago, it was revealed the prime minister had blasted Patel for not getting her act together. “What the f*** is the Home Office doing?” Boris is reported to have raged. The Times reports the PM is backing the comprehensive new plans.

The new Nationality and Borders Bill to be introduced this week will narrow protections for wandering migrants in addition to processing them offshore.

Illegal migrants would automatically be unable to apply for permanent residency, their best possible outcome would be temporary leave to remain. They would also be denied benefits and regularly assessed for removal.

Denmark’s left-leaning government has heeded voters’ calls for a tough immigration policy. At the beginning of the year it was announced Syrian migrants would be sent home. Naturally, Eurocrats pushed back and were ignored.

Danish officials have already been dispatched to Rwanda to put an effective solution in place. A memorandum on asylum and migration has been signed with a view to a processing centre being established there. “We’ve had conversations to see what the Danes are doing,” said a government source. Rwanda is one of the few members of the Commonwealth that was not previously a British colony, having joined in 2009.

Australia’s policy of re-routing all migrant vessels to Papua New Guinea is also being examined.

Having previously abandoned the option of filtering migrants outside of Britain to ensure thousands don’t breach the nation’s sovereign borders, there is scepticism of any intent. But another source confirmed to The Times the provisions are in the bill. “It’s a pretty strong sign of intent”, they added.

Another insider closely involved with the new legislation said: “The prime minister and home secretary are determined to look at anything that will make a difference on Channel crossings.

“The numbers have a psychological and political impact that goes far beyond the actual numbers involved. The idea that people are coming in apparently at will – even if it’s a relatively small proportion of immigration to the UK – doesn’t exactly give the impression we’re in control, especially when people are washing up in dinghies.

“The only way to really tackle this problem is to tackle the pull factors, which is what the ideas around offshore processing and the presumption that if you cross illegally then your asylum applications are going to be treated less favourably than legal routes are about.”

Initial plans to reform Britain’s broken asylum system, published last month, were attacked by Labour for lacking compassion.

“Offshore processing is an act of cruel and brutal hostility towards vulnerable people,” said the distressed head of a refugee charity.