The UK has a proud history of welcoming those in desperate need of help. We are a fundamentally generous nation recognised as a beacon of humanity, openness, and opportunity around the world. You only need to look at the enthusiastic response to the Homes for Ukraine Scheme to see that we are a nation serious about protecting those most in danger, including in Folkestone and Hythe where 140 visas have been granted, many of whom I have assisted with where I can.
All migration must be both safe and legal. It is imperative that our asylum system prioritises those in imminent danger, not primarily young men who have travelled through numerous safe countries and paid criminal gangs to smuggle them into the country, bypassing those who have followed the rules by going through safe and legal routes. Such uncontrolled migration places unfair and unpredictable pressure on local services. I was therefore pleased to recently welcome the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson to the constituency to discuss the government’s New Plan for Immigration. At Lydd Airport, the Prime Minister set out how we can finally clamp down on the cruel trafficking gangs that exploit vulnerable people through their inhumane business model. We are going to break the incentives for people to come here illegally. Those who are economic migrants taking advantage of the asylum system by crossing the English Channel illegally from France, which is a safe country, may be relocated to Rwanda where they will be protected, have full access to legal support, and be free to integrate as they start a new life in a safe place.
In addition, the Royal Navy now has operational command over the Channel with the objective that no boat makes it to the UK undetected. Backed by £50 million in funding for new boats, drones providing advanced aerial surveillance and additional personnel, this will bolster the existing Border Force capacity in the Channel. This new investment will significantly enhance the ability of law enforcement to identify and engage with small vessels trying to cross the sea from France. We are also overhauling our arrivals infrastructure in Kent, providing new processing facilities at Western Jet Foil and Manston. After processing, those claiming asylum will be taken to accommodation centres, rather than hotels. Our immigration detention facilities will also be expanded to support the removal of those with no right to remain in the UK. This comprehensive and committed approach is evidence that the government is taking the long-standing issue of illegal immigration seriously, and I will work closely with them to ensure that constituents voices are heard.
Finally, the government’s Online Safety Bill, which is currently being debated in parliament, will also require big technology platforms like Facebook and Twitter to remove content from people traffickers promoting their services, including the sale of forged documents and promoting places on small vessels seeking to enter the UK illegally. Our objective in all of these measures is to stop these dangerous Channel crossings.