‘We will end up with even more chaos’: Govt warned immigration bill will make the situation worse
The government’s Nationality and Borders Bill will only bring more “chaos and delay” to the UK’s “dysfunctional” immigration system, Amnesty International has said.
The bill passed its second reading in the Commons on Tuesday evening by 366 votes to 265.
It would allow the UK to send asylum seekers to a “safe third country” and to submit claims at a “designated place” determined by the secretary of state.
It would also mean anyone knowingly arriving in the UK without permission would be committing a crime, and Border Force officers would have the power to turn back migrant boats using “reasonable force if necessary”.
But Steve Valdez-Symonds, Amnesty UK’s refugee and migrant rights programme director, said: “Criminalising people just for trying to reach a place of safety is morally and legally indefensible.
“People cross the Channel and put themselves in serious danger because there are simply no safe alternatives open to them.
“Unless MPs drastically amend this bill, we will end up with even more chaos and delay in our dysfunctional immigration system.”
Home Secretary Priti Patel says the bill will address the UK’s “broken asylum system” as record numbers of migrants risk travelling on small boats across the Channel.
Ms Patel is due to appear before the Commons Home Affairs Committee this morning to update MPs on the situation.
There have already been more people crossing the Channel on small boats this year so far than there were in all of last year, according to Home Office data compiled by the PA news agency.
At least 287 migrants reached the UK on Tuesday, bringing the year’s total to at least 8,452.
During 2020, 8,417 people crossed the Dover Strait aboard small boats.
On Monday, at least 430 people arrived by small boat in the UK, a new record for a single day.
Tim Naor Hilton, chief executive at Refugee Action, said the growing number of crossings “shows the government’s get-tough-quick schemes do not work”.
He added: “Criminal smugglers prey on refugees who have little choice than to put risk their lives in rickety boats because ministers refuse to create more routes to reach safety here.
“And the government’s cruel anti-refugee bill will do little to stop the boats. It is unworkable, unlawful and will end up an expensive disaster that criminalises people who are simply asking for our help.”
Dan O’Mahoney, clandestine channel threat commander for the Home Office, said: “There is an unacceptable rise in dangerous small boat crossings across the channel because of a surge in illegal migration across Europe.
“The government continues to take steps to tackle the unacceptable problem of illegal migration through the Nationality and Borders Bill which will protect lives and break this cycle of illegal crossings.
“The government is also continuing to return those with no legal right to remain in the UK.”
Also on Tuesday evening, the Home Office announced that Britain is to give France another £54m to prevent crossing, following an agreement between Ms Patel and French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin.
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt considering further public spending cut to boost tax giveaway in budget
Jeremy Hunt is considering a last minute further cut to public spending to boost the tax giveaway in Wednesday’s budget.
The Politics At Jack And Sam’s podcast, out now, set out how Number 10 and 11 have spent recent days finding as many different ways of raising future revenue as possible to increase the size of Wednesday’s tax cuts.
National insurance could be cut by 2p again in the budget if the chancellor succeeds in finding the right mix of revenue raising measures and spending cuts.
Currently spending is due to rise 1% above inflation after next year. However, if this was cut to 0.75% above inflation, that would raise £5-6bn.
The chancellor would hope to resist questions about where he would cut, saying he is doing an efficiency drive and decisions would be outlined at a future spending review post election.
The decision on whether to cut future spending was live in the Treasury as recently as Friday, and this morning the chancellor was arguing about the importance of finding efficiencies.
This is likely to boost Labour’s charge that the government is “maxing out the credit card” to keep its own supporters on side.
However, most Tories in government believe this is a necessary trade-off to allow the party to go into the next election presenting themselves as the low-tax party.
Some senior Tories disagree, however, worrying that the public is more worried about the state of public services than tax cuts.
The budget is likely to have cuts or the abolition of non-dom status, which could raise £2-3bn, plus other small loopholes closing generating a few hundred million in revenue.
The Politics At Jack And Sam’s Podcast also reveals how delaying Contaminated Blood compensation payouts has helped deliver tax cuts.
In January, the Treasury was worried those payments might reduce the amount the chancellor could spend before he reached the borrowing limits from his fiscal rules.
However, the inquiry will not report until later and the government is resisting calls for interim payouts.
Christian Horner ‘absolutely’ expects to remain in charge after claims of inappropriate behaviour
Red Bull boss Christian Horner has said he “absolutely” expects to remain in charge for next week’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
The team principal told Sky Sports F1 that Red Bull is a “very strong team” after reigning world champion Max Verstappen and his teammate Sergio Perez came first and second in Saturday’s Bahrain Grand Prix – the first race of the season.
He said: “We have got tremendous support, tremendous partners and great shareholders behind us as well.
“You don’t achieve this kind of result by not being united.”
Horner was asked if he expects to still be in charge in Jeddah after a tumultuous week to which he replied: “Yes, absolutely. I wouldn’t be here otherwise.”
The 50-year-old watched the podium ceremony with his wife, former Spice Girl Geri Horner, after hundreds of WhatsApp messages reported to have been part of Red Bull’s recent probe were leaked.
Horner has always denied the claims.
The couple, who married in 2015, walked hand-in-hand and shared a kiss at the Grand Prix but Horner later admitted the past few days had “not been pleasant”.
“I have the support of an incredible family, an incredible wife, an incredible team and everybody within that team,” he said.
“And my focus is going racing, winning racing and doing the best I can.
“It was a day about starting the season in the best possible way. My focus is on this team, my family, my wife and racing.”
Earlier, Formula One world champion Max Verstappen suggested his boss is “probably a little bit distracted” following the reports.
Asked about the leaked messages after he took pole position in qualifying on Saturday, Verstappen said: “It’s not our business.
“When I look at how Christian operates within the team, he has been an incredible team boss, so absolutely from the performance side of things, you can’t even question that.
“So that’s what I am also dealing with. I speak to Christian a lot, and also of course throughout the weekend here he is fully committed to the team.
“He’s also here for the performance, of course probably a little bit distracted, but like I said before, we just focus on the performance things and that’s how we all work together.”
The messages were leaked to numerous media organisations and F1 team principals from an anonymous email account, but have not been confirmed as genuine.
Horner subsequently released a statement, saying: “I won’t comment on anonymous speculation but to reiterate, I have always denied the allegations.
“I respected the integrity of the independent investigation and fully co-operated with it every step of the way.
“It was a thorough and fair investigation conducted by an independent specialist barrister and it has concluded dismissing the complaint made. I remain fully focused on the start of the season.”
Ahead of this weekend’s race, president of the FIA, Mohammed ben Sulayem said any complaint lodged with its compliance officer would be investigated but it had not received one relating to Horner’s situation and would not “jump the gun”, according to the Financial Times.
“It’s damaging the sport,” ben Sulayem told the newspaper. “This is damaging on a human level.”
Horner had been questioned for eight hours by a lawyer on 9 February.
Red Bull confirms grievance dismissed
In a statement, Red Bull said: “The independent investigation into the allegations made against Mr Horner is complete, and Red Bull can confirm that the grievance has been dismissed.
“The complainant has a right of appeal. Red Bull is confident that the investigation has been fair, rigorous and impartial.
“The investigation report is confidential and contains the private information of the parties and third parties who assisted in the investigation, and therefore we will not be commenting further out of respect for all concerned.
“Red Bull will continue striving to meet the highest workplace standards.”
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Horner has said his wife has been “very supportive” during the process. He also revealed he had been “overwhelmed” by messages of goodwill from within the sport.
He has been Red Bull team principal since they entered Formula One 19 years ago and is the longest-serving boss on the grid.
During that period he has overseen the team win seven drivers’ world championships and six constructors’ titles.
Chancellor tempers tax cut expectations as £800m tech package to free up public service workers’ time revealed
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has tempered expectations of tax cuts in Wednesday’s budget as he announced an £800m package of technology reforms designed to free up time for frontline public sector workers.
As part of Treasury reforms, police will use drones to assess incidents such as traffic collisions and artificial intelligence will be deployed to cut MRI scan times by a third.
The department said the changes have the potential to deliver £1.8bn worth of benefits to public sector productivity by 2029.
Follow latest: PM rails against ‘extremist forces’
In a statement, the chancellor said: “We shouldn’t fall into the trap of thinking more spending buys us better public services.
“There is too much waste in the system and we want public servants to get back to doing what matters most: teaching our children, keeping us safe and treating us when we’re sick.
“That’s why our plan is about reaping the rewards of productivity, from faster access to MRIs for patients to hundreds of thousands of police hours freed up to attend burglaries or incidents of domestic abuse.”
Darren Jones, Labour’s shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, said the announcement amounted to “spin without substance”.
Meanwhile, Mr Hunt told The Sunday Telegraph that he “won’t take any risks” after previous speculation he may cut income tax.
The newspaper said the chancellor is due to meet Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Sunday evening to make a final decision on whether a 2p cut is affordable.
Mr Hunt said that bringing down the current tax burden is a “long path” and that the financial forecasts setting out how much so-called “headroom” he has to meet his fiscal rules had “gone against us”.
According to The Sunday Times, the Office for Budget Responsibility told the chancellor on Wednesday that he has £12.8bn of headroom to play with – more than £2bn less than the figure the Treasury is said to have previously been basing its calculations on.
Mr Hunt is under pressure to deliver tax cuts in what could be the last economic set piece from the Conservative government before the next general election.
The tax burden is reaching record levels, with it expected to rise to its highest point since the Second World War before the end of this decade as the country looks to pay back heavy borrowing used for support during COVID-19 and the energy spike in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
No 10 and No 11 are said to be weighing up if it is possible to administer such a cut or whether to reduce national insurance contributions further, having sliced it by two percentage points in the autumn statement.
The cut in November did not reduce taxation for pensioners – a key voter demographic for the Tories – as they do not pay national insurance.
Mr Hunt is said to be preparing to raise £300m by changing the preferential tax regime for holiday lets in the budget.
Another £500m may be raised by introducing a levy on vapes.
He also is thought to be considering abolishing the non-dom status as a potential way of raising revenue.
Non-domiciled status allows foreign nationals who live in the UK, but are officially domiciled overseas, to avoid paying UK tax on their overseas income or capital gains.
Mr Sunak’s wife Akshata Murty has previously enjoyed non-dom status.
Watch Jeremy Hunt appear on Sunday Morning With Trevor Phillips on Sky News from 8.30am.
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