Boris Johnson clashes with Peter Bone on immigration
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She promised to protect Britain’s borders and warned: “There are people who attempt to come to our country to do us harm, plotting to strike at our way of life.” Ms Patel said the asylum system is collapsing under the weight of illegal migration. The number of migrants who have crossed the Channel so far this year is now above 17,000 – more than double the 8,417 total for 2020. The Home Secretary also warned economic migrants arriving illegally in Britain are “undermining our ability to support those in genuine need of protection”.
She said: “Our system must uphold our reputation as a country where criminality is not rewarded, but where playing by our rules is.”
In her keynote address to the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester, Ms Patel renewed her attack on people smugglers, drug kingpins and thugs who target women and girls.
She said: “I will never flinch from taking the difficult decisions needed to keep our country safe and secure.
“Where criminals attempt to incite fear, harm and terror in our communities, I will act.
“Where lights are being switched off on other people’s liberties, I will act.
“Where our borders and our laws need strengthening, I will act. There will be new challenges and new tests.
“And we will meet them, strengthened by our belief in this country.
“That is my promise to you, that is my service to the people of Britain.”
Ms Patel also confirmed plans to introduce drug testing on arrest measures across all 43 police forces in England and Wales under a crackdown on recreational use.
This will also aim to prevent offenders’ habits spiralling into violent crime. Anyone arrested for crimes such as theft, fraud or drug possession will initially “be supported to tackle their drug abuse and regain their independence”.
But those who refuse face prosecution with a maximum penalty of up to six months in jail or a £2,500 fine.
Officers will test suspects in custody for the presence of heroin or cocaine.
A total of £375,000 will be offered to police forces immediately to expand their use of drug testing on arrest.
And the Government will offer £5,000 to all 43 forces in England and Wales to invest in extra testing equipment and training for police officers and staff this year. Under new plans unveiled by Ms Patel yesterday, five police forces – City of London, South Yorkshire, West Midlands, Hertfordshire and Gwent – will be given extra money and powers in a fresh pilot scheme.
This will be to test suspects arrested for crimes beyond the usual “trigger” offences of shoplifting, burglary and robbery. Ms Patel told delegates: “Under my watch we have seen some of the biggest law enforcement raids in our country’s history, with our crackdown on county lines drugs gangs resulting in over 1,000 shut down.
“Millions of pounds in cash seized and over 6,000 criminals arrested.
“We are cutting the head off the snake and taking down the kingpins behind these deadly supply lines.
“Drug abuse and addiction ruins communities, devastates lives and tears families apart. Drugs are also responsible for the crimes I am committed to cutting.
“For those unwilling to address their drug misuse, there will be the harshest possible legal sanctions and consequences.”
People who arrive in the UK illegally will no longer be able to remain indefinitely. The New Plan for Immigration will see the vast majority of asylum applications rejected if the person arrived here illegally.
In exceptional cases, migrants will receive a new temporary protection status rather than an automatic right to settle.
People entering illegally will also have limited family reunion rights and limited access to benefits.
Ms Patel yesterday insisted the British public must be patient as the new immigration reforms come into force.
She told Conservative Party delegates: “At long last, the British immigration system is under the control of the British Government. I know from the briefings I receive from the intelligence and security agencies that there are people who attempt to come to our country to do us harm. Plotting to strike at our way of life.
“And I shall continue to fight with every ounce of my being to protect and uphold the safety and security of our nation.
“We make no apology for securing our borders and exploring all possible options to save lives by ending these horrific journeys.
“Which is why, right from the start, I have worked intensively with every institution with a responsibility to protect our borders.”
Priti Patel went on the offensive to reassert the Tories as the party of law and order.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has recently taken a stronger line on crime as he tries to wrestle some of the initiative away from the Conservatives.
Focusing on the appallingly low number of rape prosecutions and convictions, he is even echoing New Labour’s “tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime” pledge made famous by Tony Blair.
But Priti Patel took a bullish tone towards Labour, insisting it wants to decriminalise drugs and pivot towards open borders.
And she made the headline-grabbing announcement that there will be an inquiry into how killer officer Wayne Couzens was allowed to work in the police.
The Met has commissioned its own review. But the Home Secretary has taken swift action as the anger over the police response to the rotten apples in the service intensifies.
And it didn’t stop there. Ms Patel celebrated the success of recent initiatives including Operation Venetic, which has seen a huge number of criminals from organised crime gangs across the country arrested.
On the “causes of crime”, she has ordered drug testing during every arrest, which will give many addicts a chance to receive treatment.
On immigration, Ms Patel was incredibly clear in her desire to end the migrant crisis in the English Channel.
She knows this is something voters want to see and stressed how the Government is trying everything it can to bring down the numbers arriving on the South coast. Issues around the crisis – pushing boats back and paying France £54million when many say Paris lacks the political will to enact change – are certainly contentious.
But in a highly indicative section of her speech, Ms Patel said: “We owe it to our country to continue confronting difficult issues, no matter how controversial, or complex.
“Taking action on the difficult decisions that have stumped politicians for too long.”
Clearly at pains to stress she will always take the difficult decisions, she said this five times. Her party and her country now await the results of those decisions.
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