Small Boats Bill: What's in the plan to stop Channel crossings?

Rishi Sunak has made stopping small boat crossings one of his top priorities. Credit: PA

By Lewis Denison, ITV News Westminster Producer

A long-awaited plan to 'stop the boats' has finally been unveiled, with Home Secretary Suella Braverman announcing the Illegal Migration Bill in Parliament.

The new law will force detention on virtually everyone who enters the UK illegally and make it impossible for most of them to claim asylum - but there's much more to it.

Ms Braverman has already admitted the policy will push the "boundaries of international law” and there are various hoops for the legislation to jump through before it can be implemented.

Speaking in the House of Commons, she said  it would “betray” British voters not to tackle the “waves of illegal migrants breaching our border”.

But she told MPs she “can’t make a definitive statement of compatibility” of her legislation to halt small boat crossings of the Channel under the Human Rights Act.

Labour doubts the plan will ever become a reality, because the opposition it could face in Parliament and challenges its likely to come up against in the courts.

However Prime Minister Rishi Sunak insists it is fair and will allow the UK to "take back control of our borders once and for all", he said when writing in the Sun.

What is the plan?

  • There will be a duty placed on the home secretary to detain anyone who arrives in the UK illegally, except the seriously ill and children

  • It will no longer be possible for people who enter the UK illegally to claim asylum

  • Anyone who crosses the English Channel to enter Great Britain will be deported, either to a safe third country, Rwanda - which the government has signed an asylum deal with - or back to their home nation if it is not dangerous. Only those too ill to fly, people under 18 or migrants at serious risk of irreversible harm if they are deported will avoid relocation

  • Those who do enter illegally will be banned from ever returning

  • New safe routes for asylum seekers to apply to resettle in the UK will be established but only once the problem of small boats is resolved

  • The law could take months to be implemented but will be applied retrospectively, meaning anyone who arrives after its announcement will be subject to the consequences

  • A limit will be placed how many refugees can be accepted, with Parliament to agree the number

Watch Suella Braverman set out the main points of her Bill as she avoids discussing its legal complexities

Ms Braverman said it would “betray the will of the people we were elected to serve” if the government were not to tackle the “waves of illegal migrants” arriving in Britain.

The home secretary told the Commons: “Crucially, these are decisions supported by the British people precisely because they were decisions made by the British people and their elected representatives, not by the people smugglers and other criminals breaking into Britain on a daily basis.

“For a government not to respond to waves of illegal migrants breaching our borders would be to betray the will of the people we were elected to serve.”

Labour’s Yvette Cooper accused the home secretary of preciding over "choas".

She told the Commons: “They could be setting out a serious plan today – and we would work with them, and so would everyone across the country.

“Instead, it’s just more chaos. They say no ifs, no buts, but all of us know she’s going to spend the whole of the next year iffing and butting, and looking for someone else to blame when it all goes wrong.

“Enough is enough. We cannot afford any more of this slogans and not solutions, just government by gimmick, ramping up the rhetoric on refugees, picking fights simply so they have someone else to blame when things go wrong.”