Lord Howard of Lympne is a former leader of the Conservative Party and Home Secretary. He was MP for Folkestone and Hythe from 1983 to 2010.
Opponents of government policy in Rwanda like to claim that it is immoral. You are wrong. The immoral course would be to let the current situation continue, to let the criminal gangs continue to ply their evil trade, to continue to allow vulnerable people to be lured into making this dangerous journey.
The problem in the Canal cannot be ignored. The number of small boat crossings has more than quadrupled in the last two years. If nothing is done, these numbers will continue to grow at this rate. Tragedies will become more common, and remember that this year alone, 2,000 people have died trying to cross the Mediterranean.
We need to break the business model of criminal gangs. The only way to do that is to show that if you come here illegally, you won’t be able to stay in this country, you won’t be put up in an expensive taxpayer-funded hotel, and you won’t be able to use our legal system. to thwart its removal.
Once people realize that: the ships will stop coming and the ability of human traffickers to carry out their evil trade will diminish. Deterrence works, as Australia’s Operation Sovereign Borders policy and our own agreement with Albania have shown.
Now, I know as a former Home Secretary that many of those who arrive here cannot simply be sent back to their own countries. That is why the Government has reached an agreement with Rwanda to welcome these people. This means that those fleeing persecution will not have to return home. Instead, they will have the opportunity to start a new life in Rwanda.
Rwanda is a safe country. In fact, the United Nations refugee agency itself uses Rwanda to house refugees from Libya. The High Court agreed that Rwanda is a safe country. The Court of Appeal agreed that Rwanda itself was a safe country, but two of its judges felt that there remained a risk that asylum seekers sent to Rwanda under this policy could be mistakenly returned to other countries. .
Judicial review is an important element in our system. But judges should only overturn the actions of our democratically elected government when their decisions are clearly wrong. It should not be a vehicle for the substitution of the personal opinions of individual judges for the opinion of the Ministers who are accountable to parliament.
In this case, two judges, including the Lord Chief Justice, the most senior judge in England, found in favor of the government and two against. Therefore, it is clearly impossible to argue that no reasonable person could find the government’s action illegal. I hope the Supreme Court will take this into account when they come to consider the case.
Rather than fall into moral stances, critics should realize that there is no moral alternative to Rwanda’s politics. As my old friend Ken Clarke said in the House of Lords last week, opponents of the policy have not put forward any viable alternative. Essentially they are arguing that the government should abandon its first duty, to protect the borders of its state. They are proposing that criminal gangs be allowed to bring unlimited numbers of people into this country. This would be a terrible result.
We cannot allow the current situation to continue. If we do, our asylum system will collapse. We all have a responsibility to fix the system to make sure we help those who need it most.
That is why, as you return to the Lords this week, I urge my colleagues in the House to resist repealing a stunning majority of the Commons and allow the Illegal Migration Bill to go through without amendments that would lessen its effect of breaking the business model of criminal gangs and preventing us from controlling our borders.
Great Britain is a generous country. Just look at how many families have opened their homes to Ukrainian refugees fleeing Putin’s barbarian invasion. But the British people, reasonably and correctly, want control. They want to know that it is their government, not criminal gangs, that is deciding who comes to this country. This is the correct approach, the moral approach.