Siobhan Baillie responds to UK Rwanda refugee plan

STROUD MP Siobhan Baillie has responded to the so-called UK Rwanda refugee plan. 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Home Secretary Priti Patel have set out widely criticised plans to fly migrants who cross the Channel in small boats more than 4,000 miles to Rwanda.

The eye-catching scheme announced on Thursday comes after the Home Secretary has come under sustained pressure to stop asylum seekers making the perilous journeys.

Leader of the opposition Sir Keir Starmer claimed the plan is ‘unworkable, extortionate and going to cost taxpayers billions of pounds’. 

Ian Blackford, the Scottish National party’s Westminster leader, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “It’s just chilling, absolutely chilling, to think that people who are coming here for a whole host of reasons – vulnerable people – are going to be taken all the way to Africa to be processed.”

The Stroud MP Siobhan Baillie has had her say. 

“Migrants illegally coming across the channel has exploded in the last four years from 297 in 2018 to 28,526 last year with 4578 already in 2022,” said Ms Baillie. 

“The majority are not refugees but economic migrants, many of whom have paid traffickers.

“Around 70 per cent of those who come using small boats are single men of working age. 

“There is no single or simple solution to stopping illegal migration and tackling and stopping human trafficking.

“However, the dangerous Channel crossing is costing lives and the organised criminal gangs that facilitate it are making huge sums.

“We must do all we can to deter this and the steps the government is taking will do that.

“The media have picked up on using Rwanda as offshore processing for applications but the deal actually means that migrants can resettle in Rwanda and other measures like using the Navy to assist border control have been overlooked. 

“I simply do not accept that this country is planning to turn people away who need our help.

“I’ve spoken up when refugee policies do not work and I will do so again but I think there does need to be a new approach for illegal migration.

“The offshoring policy will also not apply to women and children arriving here.

“We continue to be a safe haven for those fleeing danger.

“In my view we have to prioritise helping people directly from conflict zones, like we have done in Syria, in Afghanistan and now Ukraine. 

“I’m constantly asked at the moment to ensure more refugees can come to the UK and people understand that such work has to be done alongside efforts to tackle illegal immigration.

“For economic, cultural, social, logistical reasons and to be able to prioritise those most in need, uncontrolled migration does not work. 

“The current situation is also not sustainable for the UK. 

“It costs approximately £5m a day to put the migrants who arrived in small boats up in hotels.

“We have tens of thousands awaiting deportation. The system is broken and something needs to be done. 

“It is also wrong to say that members of the public who believe borders need control or a government trying to find solutions are not compassionate. 

“We have come up with visa schemes, resettlement programmes and now a community scheme in people’s homes to help.

“I will need to see the new proposals work in practice as there are undoubtedly challenges but it is frustrating to see opposition parties shouting things down without a plan of their own to tackle this serious issue.”

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