The Prime Minister also confirmed the Illegal Migration Bill will apply “retrospectively”
Rishi Sunak vowed migrants arriving in the UK illegally would be removed “within weeks” as the Government unveiled plans for fresh laws to curb Channel crossings.
The Prime Minister also confirmed the Illegal Migration Bill – which will stop people claiming asylum in the UK if they arrive through unauthorised means – will apply “retrospectively”.
Earlier, Home Secretary Suella Braverman said asylum seekers arriving illegally would be detained and face a lifetime ban on returning after they were removed as she unveiled the plans in the Commons. They would never be allowed to settle in the country or gain citizenship.
Speaking at a Downing Street press conference on Tuesday afternoon, Mr Sunak said: “People must know that if they come here illegally, it will result in their detention and swift removal.
“Once this happens, and they know it will happen, they will not come and the boats will stop.”
Mr Sunak, who had visited Dover in Kent earlier in the day to mark the announcement, said the laws will make it “clear that if you come here illegally, you can’t claim asylum”, adding: “You can’t benefit from our modern slavery protection. You can’t make serious human rights claims and you can’t stay.
“We will detain those who come here illegally and then remove them in weeks, either to their own country if it is safe to do so, or to a safe third country like Rwanda.
“And once you are removed, you will be banned – as you are in America and Australia – from ever re-entering our country.”
Describing the move as “tough” but “necessary and fair”, he said: “And this legislation will be retrospective. If you come on a small boat today, the measures in this Bill will apply to you.”
But he conceded the UK will be “constrained” in its ability to take in genuine refugees in future if it fails in its efforts to stop the boats.
“Full control of our borders will allow us to decide who to help, and to provide safe and legal routes to those most in need,” he said.
“I understand there will be debate about the toughness of these measures. All I can say is we’ve tried it every other way and it has not worked.
“It’s this country and your Government who should decide who comes here, not criminal gangs.”
Asked if he would have failed if he had not “stopped the boats” by the next general election, Mr Sunak said: “I wouldn’t be standing here if I didn’t think that I could deliver on this promise.”
Ms Braverman told MPs it would “betray” British voters not to tackle the “waves of illegal migrants breaching our border”.
But Labour’s shadow home secretary, Yvette Cooper, branded the Bill a “con” and described the plans as “Groundhog Day” less than a year after reforms were brought into force under the Nationality and Borders Act.
The comments came in the wake of criticism from campaigners who said the proposed policy would be unworkable.
Ms Braverman said the need for reform is “obvious and urgent” as the asylum system now costs the British taxpayer more than £3 billion a year and amid a record number of cases awaiting a decision.
Published: by Radio NewsHub