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Suella Braverman wants ‘safe country list to fast-track asylum seekers’ removal’

Home Office said to be planning to put Albania on ‘white list’ of safe countries

Adam Forrest
Tuesday 29 November 2022 11:13 GMT
‘Shortage of safe and legal routes’ for migrants, Suella Braverman told by Tory MP

Rishi Sunak’s government is considering plans to fast-track the removal of asylum seekers from designated “safe” countries in an effort to tackle small boats crossings, it has been reported.

Home secretary Suella Braverman is said to want to revive a New Labour government policy of creating a “white list” of countries deemed to be safe by the Home Office.

Asylum claims of citizens from those countries would largely be regarded as unfounded unless they are able to provide contrasting evidence – with no right of appeal, according to The Times.

However, a source close to the home secretary said they did not recognise the report and a so-called “white list” policy was not in development.

The newspaper claimed that the list would include Albania, who accounted for just over a third of people detected crossing the English Channel in the first nine months of the year.

The reported plans would emulate a New Labour policy from the early 2000s, in which asylum claimants from some countries would have their applications dealt with in less than 10 days.

Migrants arriving in small boats from one of the countries deemed safe would reportedly be detained at the Manston processing site in Kent or other reception centres as their asylum claims are fast-tracked.

A Home Office spokesperson said in a statement: “We’ve been clear that we will continue to use every tool at our disposal to deter illegal migration, including returning those with no right to be in the UK to their home country.

“We return people who come to the UK illegally through a mixture of formal and information returns agreements with a number of countries, and we are always looking at ways to speed up removals and improve our returns processes with other countries.”

It follows pressure from a group of 50 Tory MPs who have proposed “summary rejection” of asylum claims by applicants from safe countries – as well as a plan to send back all asylum seekers who have been trafficked or are “victims” of modern slavery.

The group – led by former cabinet ministers David Davis, Liam Fox and Esther McVey – claims the move would be “a common sense” solution to the crisis of small boats crossing the Channel.

“If your claim is you’ve been trafficked involuntarily, then surely the simplest, common sense solution is to correct that and take you back to your own home?” the former Brexit secretary argued.

The latest figures, which have been published by the Home Office, show there were 33,029 small boat arrivals in the UK from January to September this year. Of this total, 11,241 (35 per cent) were Albanian nationals.

Albanians made up nearly half of those detected making the crossing in small boats from July to September, according to the government.

“We value our Albanian community in the UK, and continue to welcome Albanians who travel to the UK legally and contribute to British society,” a Home Office spokesperson said.

“However, this year we are seeing large numbers of Albanians risking their lives and making dangerous and unnecessary journeys to the UK through illegal means, and this is placing further strain on our asylum system.

“With co-operation from the government of Albania, we are taking every opportunity to intercept the work of organised criminal gangs and people smugglers, and speeding up the removal of Albanians with no right to be in the UK.”

But Albanian prime minister Edi Rama has said the UK government “stop discriminating” against Albanians to “excuse policy failures”.

Ms Braverman recently admitted the government has “failed to control our borders” – but blamed migrants and people smugglers for the overcrowding at the controversial Manston processing centre.

“I tell you who’s at fault. It’s very clear who’s at fault. It’s the people who are breaking our rules, coming here illegally, exploiting vulnerable people and trying to reduce the generosity of the British people,” she said.

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