Mark Drakeford accuses UK Government of ‘dog whistle’ politics over its Stop The Boats policy

Mr Drakeford said stopping the high number of migrant crossings can be done by opening “safe and legitimate” routes of asylum. Credit: PA

Mark Drakeford said the UK Government's small boats policy is “damaging” the country’s relationship with the rest of the world, accusing it of “dog whistle” politics.

The First Minister has slammed Conservative ministers for what he called “posturing” over immigration to appeal to a small percentage of the population.

The Illegal Migration Bill introduced by Home Secretary Suella Braverman last week states that refugees who arrive in the UK through unauthorised means, like illegally crossing the English Channel in a boat, will have their asylum claims deemed inadmissible.

Mr Drakeford has said the solution to the stopping the high number of migrant crossings was to open up “safe and legitimate” routes of asylum.

He said: “It’s astonishing that we live in a time when our Home Secretary put a Bill in front of the House of Commons that she herself said she can’t certify is lawful.

“It’s damaging to the UK’s reputation in the rest of the world.

“There’s no future in that sort of dog whistle politics that seeks to divide people from one another and appeal to a small percentage of the population.

“More generally, my view is that we’re in a period which is the last months of this Conservative Government and we’re seeing this awful politics of posturing.

“They are doing things knowing the implementation will lay beyond this Parliament and they won’t have to face the consequences of their own decisions.”

He added: “I’m not responsible for immigration policy, but our general view is clear as a Welsh Government.

“What’s needed are safe and legal routes that people – refugees and asylum seekers – can take so they are not forced into the hands of people smugglers and forced to take astonishing risks to get here on small boats.

“Proper safe, legitimate routes that work and that are not snarled up with long waiting periods are what’s needed.

“This way, those with legitimate asylum claims can be given sanctuary and those who do not are turned back in a timely fashion.”

The Home Secretary has insisted the government's plans to stop small boat Channel crossings is 'lawful.' Credit: PA

A Home Office spokesperson said: “The UK has a proud history of providing protection for those who genuinely need it through our safe and legal routes offering safety and protection to almost half a million men, women, and children.

“While we are committed to creating more routes to safety for vulnerable people across the globe, we must grip the rise in illegal migration and stop the boats.

“That is why we are introducing new legislation that will see people who come to the UK illegally, liable for detention and swift removal.”

It is believed the only legal challenge that will be considered is if someone argues there is a real risk they would suffer serious and irreversible harm if they were removed from the UK, or that they are not liable to removal under the powers in the Bill.

In those instances they would not be removed until the challenge is resolved.

The Home Office said the plans would be legal and go through Parliamentary scrutiny before any legislation is introduced.

Mr Drakeford is currently in France for three days meeting with energy and industrial companies investing in Wales and will host a reception to mark the start of Wales in France.

The visit comes only a week after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak visited Paris to meet with Emmanuel Macron for the first UK-French summit in five years, which led to the two leaders announcing a “new start” in the relationship between the two countries and a £478 million deal to stop illegal migration after years of Brexit tensions.

On Monday, the Welsh Government gave the go-ahead for the UK’s first, commercial scale, floating, off-shore wind development off the Pembrokeshire coast in West Wales. The project is a joint venture between Irish company Simply Blue Group and France’s TotalEnergies.

Mr Drakeford said it was an “important step on the journey of becoming less dependent on fossil fuels”.

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