Locking up people who enter the country illegally and preventing them from settling in the UK are “options” under consideration by Suella Braverman and No 10, as the Government puts a crackdown on small boats at the heart of its agenda.
The ideas are contained in a report from the right-wing think tank Center for Policy Studies, for which Braverman wrote a foreword.
While the Home Secretary said she did not agree with everything in the report, the Home Office did not deny that some of the ideas were being explored as potential policy.
Asked about the idea of detaining asylum seekers and barring them from settlement, a government source said: “The Prime Minister and the Home Secretary are certainly focused on cracking down on illegal migration first and foremost and are working through options together to ensure we have control over our borders .”
Labor said the government’s position was “just chaos and it’s clear that nobody has a grip”.
Sunak has made stopping small boat crossings one of his political priorities despite the difficulties in tackling the issue, with focus groups suggesting it is a major concern for Conservative voters.
The Center for Policy Studies report was co-authored by Nick Timothy, a former home affairs adviser and Downing Street chief of staff; it requires a set of new guidelines to stop the channel transitions.
Robert Jenrick, the immigration minister under Braverman, appeared to signal a much tougher approach in an interview with GB News on Saturday, saying he wanted to create a system “where deterrence runs through the whole thing”.
He added: “To me it means that you should not be given a path to life in the UK if you come here illegally. There will be policies that [deportations to] Rwanda at the heart of it – and I hope that we can pass it as soon as it comes through the British courts. It will also mean looking at how we treat people on arrival so that no one thinks that coming to the UK is a soft touch and that the UK is no better place for ‘asylum seekers’ than our EU neighbour.”
Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary, said Braverman was “hunting for one set of headlines by putting her name to a report that contradicts government policy while the immigration minister briefs something completely different, and meanwhile nobody is doing the serious work of sorting things out. “.
“This shows Rishi Sunak’s terrible judgment in reappointing Suella Braverman and his weakness in allowing this chaos to continue.”
Cooper added: “The Conservatives have now had six home secretaries and eight immigration ministers in seven years and all they have done is make the problems worse. Instead of the rhetoric and the headline-grabbing, they should adopt Ap’s plan, including a specialist unit in the Norwegian Criminal Service to go after the criminal gangs who run this, and immediate action to remove the backlog and chaos from the asylum system. “