PRITI Patel set out her government’s severe stance on asylum seekers during her conference speech this afternoon, pledging to “turn back the boats” that bring people to the UK across the Channel.

The Home Secretary received a standing ovation for her speech, which saw her take aim at opposition parties for frustrating deportation efforts – claiming they try to keep murderers, rapists, and child abusers in the country.

READ MORE: Alison Phipps: What can we Scots do about this unbelievably cruel Borders Bill?

Discussing plans to extend the sentences of those who come to the UK illegally, Patel said the Government would continue to support those in need – but would “prioritise those who play by our rules”.

“For the first time, how somebody arrives in the United Kingdom will impact how their asylum claim is processed,” the minister told delegates. “Our new laws will speed up the removal of those with no legal right to be in our country.”

This is in contravention of the 1951 UN Refugee Convention, to which the UK is a signatory. Article 31 of this convention says that states "shall not impose penalties" on refugees or asylum seekers according to how they arrived in the country.

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Patel said she knows from briefings that some people attempt to enter the UK with the intention of causing harm to citizens – and doubted the legitimacy of some people attempting to seek asylum in the UK.

“France is a safe country, one not riven by war or conflict. There is no reason why any asylum seeker should come to the United Kingdom directly from France,” she told conference.

“I make no apology for securing our borders and exploring all possible options to save lives by ending these horrific journeys.”

“Boris and I have worked intensively with every institution with a responsibility to protect our Borders – Border Force, the police, the National Crime Agency, maritime experts, and yes the military, to deliver operational solutions including new sea tactics which we are working to implement to turn back the boats.”

Patel said she would continue to take “difficult action” to address the “long-standing issue” of Channel crossings.

READ MORE: Thousands call for Priti Patel to quit or be sacked

During her speech, Patel also took aim at environmental protesters who block key infrastructure as part of their activism.

Patel said she planned to increase the maximum penalties for disrupting a motorway to put the needs of the “hard-working, often silent, majority” ahead of “so-called eco-warriors”.

“Their actions over recent weeks have amounted to some of the most self-defeating ‘environmental’ protests this country has ever seen. Freedom to protest is a fundamental right our party will forever fight to uphold. But it must be within the law,” she told conference.

“Measures already going through Parliament will ensure these criminals can be brought to justice for the disruption they are causing.

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“But we are going further to close down the legal loopholes exploited by these offenders.

“So, today, I can announce I will also increase the maximum penalties for disrupting a motorway, criminalise interference with key infrastructure such as roads, railways and our free press, and give the police and courts new powers to deal with the small minority of offenders intent on travelling around the country, causing disruption and misery across our communities.”