Updates, commentary, training and advice on immigration and asylum law
Advanced course: International surrogacy and immigration and nationality law issues
Home Office able to remove just five Channel boat people since Brexit

Home Office able to remove just five Channel boat people since Brexit

Only five people who arrived in the UK by small boat have been sent back to a European country so far this year, according to the Home Office. The figure comes from junior minister Tom Pursglove, who told MPs on the Home Affairs committee that, thanks to Brexit, there is no agreement in place allowing that to happen:

We offered as part of our withdrawal from the European Union a comprehensive returns arrangement which the European Union decided not to [accept]. We clearly need to continue to discuss that with our European friends and neighbours.

Within the EU, there was such an agreement: the “Dublin” arrangements. In the last few years of UK membership that was not a particularly effective tool for sending asylum seekers back to mainland Europe: the number of Dublin removals had fallen to a trickle in recent years. (More on this from Colin shortly in a forthcoming article.) Nevertheless, from a Home Office point of view, having no return agreement at all is hardly an improvement.

Pursglove added that the government was also trying to strike bilateral deals with individual countries. It has been trying for some time: his predecessor, Chris Philp, told the same committee last December that “our priority is to reach proper bilateral agreements. That will be our number one priority”. While such deals remain elusive, so too does the Brexit promise of “taking back control of our borders”.

CJ McKinney is Free Movement's editor. He's here to make sure that the website is on top of everything that happens in the world of immigration law, whether by writing articles, commissioning them out or considering pitches. CJ is an adviser on legal and policy matters to the Migration Observatory at Oxford University, and keeps up with the wider legal world as a contributor to Legal Cheek. Twitter: @mckinneytweets.

There are comments on this article.

Only members can view and comment on articles, as well as many other benefits.

Explore membership now