Priti Patel’s immigration reforms must not be weakened by campaigners, Tory MPs have told Boris Johnson.
Ms Patel, the Home Secretary, is set to champion a major new Borders Bill through Parliament after next month’s Queen’s Speech. However, there are already fears that campaigners and legal firms will try to water down the reforms, seen as the biggest shake-up of immigration rules for decades.
A consultation on the reforms, which still has two weeks to run, has been criticised privately by a major human rights charity for being overly complex, while a law firm is looking at a legal challenge to it on the grounds that it should be translated into another language.
A Whitehall source said “This consultation is one of the largest and most forward-leaning consultations in memory. Not just consulting ‘vested interests’ but hearing directly from the public.
“For ‘leftie activists’ and lawyers to try and scupper the new plan for immigration before it even comes to parliament just shows whose side they are really on – that of the criminal gangs profiting from people’s lives.”
The Common Sense group of Conservative MPs has written to Mr Johnson saying that “any attempt by opponents to water down its merits” must be “resisted and defeated”. The MPs wrote: “It is a pressing moral duty to disregard the inevitable, self-interested criticism of these plans by the wealthy liberal establishment.
“Some may attempt to disguise their exploitation of migrants as a source of cheap labour, others will decry sensible reform from their positions of privilege. Nevertheless, you can be certain that the Home Secretary enjoys the support of decent, hardworking patriots of every background and faith.”
The 30 MPs who signed the letter included Sir John Hayes, Imran Ahmad Khan, Chris Loder and Tom Hunt from the Commons as well as four peers including the former Tory Cabinet minister Lord Lilley and Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts.
The MPs suggested that Ms Patel go further by imposing “a strict time limit on the asylum application process” and “a renewed, proactive programme of deportations”. They also called for “the automatic rejection of claims by those who have travelled through any ‘safe’ country and/or claims which are not logged immediately after arrival in the UK”.
The MPs added: “Together, we got Brexit done. Now, it is finally time to take back control of our borders and so secure the integrity of our nationhood.”