Safe and legal routes?
Local CLP member and labour activist Martin Jewitt wrote to our local MP, following the tragic loss of life from a boat carrying refugees in the Channel, on 14th December.
In his letter, Martin asks Mr Collins to provide clarification and clear identification of the safe and legal routes for asylum seekers which the Government claims to be currently in place.
The letter from Martin and the response he received from Damian Collins are reproduced below.
Subject: Re: Issues Raised following yesterday’s tragedy in the Channel (Case Ref: DC35673)
Date: 2022-12-19 16:01
From: Damian Collins <email@example.com>
Dear Mr and Mrs Jewitt,
Thank you for your email.
I am happy to assure you that there are a number of safe and legal
routes to claim asylum in the UK, evidenced by the fact that so many
people have come to the UK via safe and legal routes.
I am afraid I am not able to offer a comment on Mr Loughton’s
contribution to the debate.
Thank you once again for taking the time to get in touch.
Damian Collins MP
Member of Parliament for Folkestone & Hythe
House of Commons London SW1A 0AA
Tel: 020 7219 7072
From: Carole & Martin Jewitt
Sent: 15 December 2022 22:03
To: COLLINS, Damian
Subject: Issues Raised following yesterday’s tragedy in the Channel
Dear Mr Collins,
Since the tragic loss of life for desperate people in the Channel
yesterday, I have looked at the subsequent parliamentary debate in
Hansard. The Home Secretary gave the interesting admission that 450,000
people had been welcomed to the UK by safe and legal routes. This
included people from Ukraine, Syria and Afghanistan, who had the
comparative advantage of Government and media recognition of their case,
so comparative accessibility is granted. This would presumably also
include people fleeing Hong Kong. I wonder what percentage of the
450,000 they take up. She then mentioned people coming from many of the
places those crossing the channel often identify with – Ethiopia, Iraq,
Sudan, Eritrea, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen, “selected by the UN
Refugee Agency”. That can’t have been very many of the 450,000, and I’m
interested to know exactly what is the relationship the Government has
with the UN Refugee Agency, because it clearly doesn’t measure up to the
need. So, apparently, the Government are providing safe and legal
But they are not providing safe and legal routes! Having said “as we
grip illegal migration, we will create safe and legal routes”, the Home
Secretary then further amplified this by saying, “We will extend safe
and legal routes once we have dealt with … people smuggling gangs”.
Clearly, the Government’s policy is to try to stop illegal crossings
before safe routes are established. It is also clear that people
smuggling, slavery, and using people’s desperation to rob them of their
money at extreme danger to their lives is a major evil that needs to be
dealt with. But it is not the whole of the problem. Hilary Benn pointed
out that people “know that, until they are in this country, they cannot
claim asylum”. For as long as people are desperate and determined to get
to the UK, there will be a market for people smugglers – unless safe and
legal routes can be established, by enabling people to access Home
Office locations where they can make their asylum claims, either in the
UK, or in Pas-de-Calais, or elsewhere where people needing to travel to
UK find themselves. The real problem lies in the wars, persecution,
tyranny and famine from which people are fleeing from across the world.
Tim Loughton suggested the French authorities “arrest and detain” people
so they don’t try the following night. For how long? What will they then
do with them? This gets to the basic fact that people who have fled
impossible circumstances and travelled thousands of miles will by that
time be determined to reach the country they, for a number of valid
reasons, have chosen. Can the Government recognise the basic facts and
provide safe and legal routes for refugees to claim asylum?