The news from the Court of Appeal means that, for now, the Rwanda policy is on ice.
This court decision matters because over recent years small boats have had a huge impact on our area. It creates a massive strain on housing, schools and services in Kent.
It’s brought terrorism to Dover too. The shocking firebombing last year by a man who lived more than 200 miles away. As well as sometimes violent militant far-left and far-right protests.
Residents tell me that they are terrified when boats arrive on local beaches and migrants have entered gardens and even a bedroom. I’ve worked hard to make the case to Government over the last three years so they understand how dangerous and frightening this is. As a result, surveillance has been increased and action taken to intercept more boats so boats aren’t arriving so often on our local beaches and shores. But with the numbers so high, particularly in the summer months, it’s a constant cat and mouse game to stop boats from slipping through the surveillance net.
This is an industrial scale, multi-billion pound criminal enterprise. More people have been brought into Dover through small boats than the equivalent of the entire constituency of Dover and Deal. It’s seen countless lives lost and missing in the Channel. It’s brutal, dangerous, murderous and criminal. It’s morally right to stop it. It’s right for the security and sovereignty of our country. It’s right for British taxpayers too, who stump up billions of pounds which we can ill afford. It’s frankly baffling that anyone could be against the Government’s efforts to end it.
In recent weeks, the Government had been preparing to put the Rwanda plans into operation in the Autumn, if the Court of Appeal signed it off. That hasn’t happened. As a result, there must be a risk that the people smugglers are further emboldened. That the numbers begin to increase again, after some indications of progress.
But it’s important to remember that Rwanda is only a part of the overall plan to tackle small boats. There is more being done, and more to be done. The Prime Minister’s deal with Albania has shown amazing success – a near collapse of entrants, down 90% from last year. The first five months of the year saw numbers down 20% – the first time that has happened since the small boats crisis began.
Yet more can and should be done. I have long called for stronger policing on French beaches to tackle the departure hot spots. As well as a Channel wide security zone to return boats safely and swiftly to France instead of bringing them into the UK.
So while we wait for the Supreme Court decision, we must continue our efforts. To do everything possible, to do more, to bring the small boats crisis to an end.