Rishi Sunak’s plans to permanently bar asylum seekers who arrive in the UK on unauthorised small boats have been winning praise from the far right in Europe.
Italian deputy prime minister Matteo Salvini hailed the measures as “harsh but fair”, while French former presidential candidate Eric Zemmour congratulated Sunak for his stance.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman unveiled new legislation this week that is key to the Prime Minister’s priority of “stopping the boats” crossing the Channel.
The UN’s refugee agency, the UNHCR, said it was “profoundly concerned” by the plans and said they would amount to an “asylum ban”.
Salvini, who serves in Italy’s first far-right led government since the end of the Second World War, shared an image of Sunak accompanied by details of his policy online.
“Prime Minister of the UK. Harsh but fair,” the leader of the anti-immigrant League party captioned it on Instagram.
In France, Zemmour, a former TV pundit whose failed bid for the French presidency was based entirely on migration, shared Sunak’s policy and said the “message is clear”.
Zemmour, who has falsely claimed that Adolf Hitler’s Vichy collaborators protected France’s Jews, said: “In the UK, illegal immigrants are not welcome and will get no preferential treatment.
“Congratulations to the British Prime Minister who, unlike Macron’s government, is choosing to protect his people from the flood of migration.”
Sunak will meet French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris on Friday as he seeks further help stopping the migrant boats leaving French shores.
In the UK, Labour has accused the Government of “ramping up the rhetoric on refugees” with what it argues will be an ineffective “con”.
The SNP’s Westminster leader Stephen Flynn suggested Sunak was taking inspiration from either prominent Brexiteer Nigel Farage or Enoch Powell, who was best known for his infamous “rivers of blood” speech that was widely blamed for heightening racial tensions in the 1960s.
Braverman, while conceding the plans may fall foul of human rights laws, has said failing to tackle the “waves of illegal migrants” would “betray” voters.
She has doubled down on a row with BBC sports pundit Gary Lineker, after he described the policy as “cruel” and criticised the language surrounding it as “not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the ’30s”.
The Home Secretary told the BBC’s Political Thinking podcast: “To kind of throw out those kind of flippant analogies diminishes the unspeakable tragedy that millions of people went through and I don’t think anything that is happening in the UK today can come close to what happened in the Holocaust. So I find it a lazy and unhelpful comparison to make.”
To become law, the plans must first be approved by Parliament.
But under them, anyone who arrives through an unauthorised means would only be eligible for asylum in a “safe” third country, such as Rwanda.
Powers would also be granted to detain migrants for 28 days without recourse for bail or judicial review, and then indefinitely for as long as there is a “reasonable prospect” of removal.
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