Labour claims that failure to negotiate return agreements with countries like France, and new restrictions under the Illegal Immigration Bill will leave tens of thousands of people holed up in hotels “indefinitely”
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Suella Braverman’s bungled immigration bill and failure to strike return deals may see the cost of holing asylum seekers in hotels rise to £25 BILLION over the next five years, Labour warns.
The government – which has been accused of “conning” the public with its Illegal Immigration Bill – plans to bar people who arrive in small boats from claiming refuge in the UK.
They will also be be banned from using Modern Slavery legislation in order to claim sanctuary, a move branded “far-right appeasing” in a bruising PMQs session yesterday.
Labour claims the government’s failure to negotiate returns agreements with France and other European countries means asylum seekers could end up staying in hotels “indefinitely”.
It says that as Rwanda can only take between 200 and 300 people and the controversial deportation isn’t operational, thousands face being “stuck in permanent taxpayer-funded accommodation”.
The government has come under fire over a lack of returns agreements, which Labour believes means there is “no realistic prospect” of removing the vast majority of asylum seekers who have passed through France and other countries.
Labour’s findings come hot-on-the-heels of a report by Durham University which ruled that Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal is a “primary factor” behind the rise in dangerous crossings.
Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper said: “This Bill is a con. It will mean thousands more people in asylum accommodation indefinitely, with the taxpayer footing the bill because of the combination of their new law and their failure on returns.
“Far from solving the problem, this will just make things worse. This is the opposite of what Rishi Sunak and Suella Braverman promised “no ifs, no buts” and shows that once again they are chasing headlines rather than setting out a serious plan.
Labour analysis found that around 30,000 people end up in permanent accommodation funded by the taxpayer, costing an average of £150 a night.
The party says that because accommodation will be indefinite, with no claims accepted, numbers will snowball.
This means an extra 100,000-150,000 asylum seekers permanently in taxpayer-funded accommodation within five years at a cost of up to £25bn over five years if they are predominantly in hotels.
A report published this month by Professor Thom Brooks at Durham University said leaving the EU without an agreement to replace the Dublin III Regulation – which enabled the UK to return some asylum seekers to EU Member States without considering their asylum claims.
Prof Brooks wrote: “A key issue is that the Government did not see the problem of small boat crossings as a consequence of its policy failures, most notably its failure to secure a post-Brexit returns arrangement with the EU.
“Since the problem first caught it by surprise, the Government has repeatedlyasserted it would get a grip on it.”
Speaking at PMQs in the Commons, Labour MP Imran Hussain voiced his fury at the government’s bill.
Mr Hussain said: “Let us be absolutely clear, under this government’s new dystopian, far-right appeasing, anti-refugee bill – those who were trafficked to the UK would still face deportation.
“Can the Prime Minister clear up whether Sir Mo Farah, who last year bravely revealed he was trafficked to the UK as a child would be removed under this bill?”
Mr Sunak swerved the question, instead saying: “It’s precisely because we do want to help the world’s most vulnerable people that we’ve got to stop the system being exploited and overwhelmed by illegal migrants who are being trafficked by criminal gangs.”