|Stopping the boats is a key priority for me. It is a real concern to many in our community that migrants have motored across the English Channel and onto our beaches, into local gardens and even a woman’s home. This understandably worries people.|
It is also bad for national security as some arrivals have been suspected of terror links. Meanwhile serious criminals have also come into Britain through the small boats route. That’s why I have been pressing Ministers to ensure that anyone who is a danger to national security or public safety will be deported right away.
It’s vital we put our national security first. Anyone seeking to undermine our nation or harm our people has no place here. We must also stop serious criminals coming into the UK – as the evidence shows they all too often go on to commit further crimes after they arrive.
Most of all we must stop the boats. The ‘Stop the Boats’ law will ensure we can immediately remove people who arrive in small boats. The Bill will mean that illegal entrants and the people smugglers will know they will not succeed. It will dramatically cut the pull factors that attract people to break into Britain. I will also continue to press for more action being taken by the French to stop the boats leaving in the first place.
In our community in Dover and Kent we take responsibility for more unaccompanied young people arriving by small boats than any other area of the country. Kent County Council are deeply committed to discharging their obligations to look after vulnerable children and young adults. The ‘Stop the Boats’ bill has special provisions around young people. The Government has recognised the risk of adults masquerading as young people will increase. This week it was reported that a 42-year-old ex-ISIS fighter came in through the small boats route, pretended to be 17 and ended up in housing alongside other under 18s. That’s why I’ve been insistent that age verification checks must be undertaken, for the protection of our own local young people in our schools and social care facilities, as well as other child migrants.
It is encouraging that the numbers arriving so far this year have been lower than those forecast. But more needs to be done and quickly. The ‘Stop the Boats’ Bill will help. We should be compassionate to those in genuine need, and we are as a country. There are, and will be more, safe and legal routes for people to enter our country. But we cannot and must not compromise on national security, on border security, or the public safety of our children, our community, and our country. That’s why this week in Parliament I supported the Stop the Boats Bill.