Northampton South MP Andrew Lewer 'broadly welcomes' controversial Nationality and Borders Bill

The MP says the UK is seen as a 'soft spot' for illegal immigration and so needs the 'deterrent'

By Max Pearson
Friday, 10th December 2021, 8:59 am
Updated Friday, 10th December 2021, 9:00 am
The MP believes that a 'deterrent' is needed to reduce illegal immigration
The MP believes that a 'deterrent' is needed to reduce illegal immigration

MP for Northampton South Andrew Lewer has 'broadly' given his support for the Nationality and Borders Bill, which will introduce a series of controversial policies designed to deter illegal immigration.

His decision comes amidst protests from pro-refugee organisations who fear that the policies proposed are too harsh and could even breach international law. However, Mr Lewer disagrees.

He said: "I broadly welcome the Nationality and Borders Bill which is making its legislative journey through Parliament at present.

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"Noteworthy is the Government plan to update the Home Secretary’s existing powers to amend the law to allow the deprivation of citizenship where it is not practicable to provide notice.

"This could be in a case where there is no way of communicating with the individual, for example if they are in a war zone. It is a measured and sensible addition to the existing legislation.

"With the channel boat crisis in full swing showing no sign of abating, I am also fully supportive of the Government plans for people granted protection in the UK to be given differing rights and entitlements.

"This will be based on the nature of their arrival to the UK. Some have argued that that this will be in contravention of the 1951 UN Refugee Convention. I disagree and so does the Government."

The MP argues that ministers have said that the UN Refugee Convention does allow for different treatment where refugees have not come directly from a country of persecution.

For example, he says that if someone enters the UK via a safe country, where they could have claimed asylum, they are not seeking refuge from imminent peril. Therefore, returning them to a safe third country is not inconsistent with the UN Refugee Convention.

Mr Lewer added: "I am glad that the Government is finally moving away from the community-based model of asylum accommodation. No wonder it is attractive to those in France who think England is a soft spot where we put them up in hotels.

"These measures in the bill are part of broader Government objectives to create a deterrent effect to prevent illegal migration which have my full support.”

However, members of West Northamptonshire Council have disagreed with Mr Lewer's views.

Danielle Stone, speaking for Northampton Town of Sanctuary, has been working closely with refugees from Afghanistan since they were forced to flee their home country in fear of a resurgent Taliban.

Ms Stone said that the bill 'penalises' people who are already 'fleeing for their lives' from overseas and that more 'compassion' is needed in the Government's approach.

She said: “I am very concerned about the impact of this bill. We work very hard in Northampton to maintain a strong sense of community and community cohesion.

"This bill will cause vulnerability, fear and uncertainty. It will encourage division by creating two classes of refugees and it conflates asylum seekers and victims of modern slavery. This is not helpful.

"We need a just and humane approach to refugees. We need compassion for victims of war, for victims of modern slavery and the full force of the law to deal with traffickers.”

"I am very disappointed that our MP is supporting the bill."

The bill will soon be put before the House of Lords once it has made it through the Commons.