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‘Take back control’ report criticised by Bishops

09 December 2022

It suggests how to reduce the ways in which people can claim asylum in Britain

Alamy

Suella Braverman, who has partially endorsed the report

Suella Braverman, who has partially endorsed the report

TWO Bishops have voiced concern at a report, partially endorsed by the Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, which suggests how to reduce the ways in which people can claim asylum in Britain.

The report, Stopping the Crossings: How Britain can take back control of its immigration and asylum system, recommends that all asylum-seekers who enter Britain “illegally” be “detained until they are relocated”. Published by the Right-leaning think tank the Centre for Policy Studies, the report also recommends that, where asylum is granted, it should be only through bespoke resettlement schemes such as operated in Syria and Afghanistan.

It suggests that the Government could leave the European Court of Human Rights “if necessary”, for example, if the court blocked moves to “offshore” asylum-seekers. It praised the now-stalled plan to deport migrants to Rwanda as “a real achievement”.

Mrs Braverman, in a foreword to the report, writes: “The British public are fair-minded. . . But we are fed up with the continued flouting of our laws and immigration rules to game our asylum system. . . While I do not agree with everything in this report, I welcome it as a vital and necessary contribution to the policy debate.”

The Bishop of Durham, the Rt Revd Paul Butler, said on Tuesday that the recommendations set out in the report “risk breaking international law”. He continued: “Due to the absence of safe and legal routes, families are left with the impossible choice to travel irregularly to the UK, as there is yet no way to claim asylum without being physically present here. That right to claim asylum from persecution is enshrined in international law, and it is unhelpful to refer to asylum-seekers as participating in an illegal act.”

Although a country should assess asylum claims thoroughly, he said, “our system currently does not provide robust or timely decisions on asylum claims, which both hinders our ability to support refugees well and return those with an invalid claim.”

The Bishop of Truro, the Rt Revd Philip Mounstephen, questioned the recommendation to grant asylum only to people from certain countries. Bishop Mounstephen, who led a 2019 independent review of Foreign Office support for persecuted Christians, said: “‘Freedom of religion or belief is a fundamental right, and its denial a growing scourge in our world today. The UK has a duty to support those who suffer as a consequence, wherever they may come from.”

Bishop Mounstephen’s report found the persecution of Christians to be “a global phenomenon”.

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