THERE are “grave concerns” over Rishi Sunak’s five-point plan to deal with "unfair" illegal immigration into the UK - including putting migrants in unused holiday camps.

The Prime Minister told the House of Commons that the UK Government will clear the backlog of asylum claims by the end of 2023, create a new dedicated unit called the "small boats operational command" to tackle Channel crossings and embed Border Force officers at Tirana airport under a new agreement with Albania.

Legislation will be created which will mean that those who come to the UK illegally will be detained and returned to their home country, or a safe third country.

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In a bid to end the use of hotels for migrants, alternative sites including disused holiday parks, former student halls and surplus military sites will be used instead. Sunak told the Commons that the Government had identified locations to house 10,000 people. 

However, the SNP hit back at the “hostile approach” from the Tory government and argued that “no one is illegal”, adding that there are concerns over the plans for accommodation and the “one size fits all approach” to Albanian refugees. 

SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn also challenged Sunak on which legal routes do exist for those seeking asylum to come to the UK. 

And, a refugee charity blasted the UK Government's plan as "appalling and grotesque". 

Announcing his five-point plan, Sunak told the Commons: "I hope the whole House would agree that there is a complex moral dimension to illegal migration, the balancing of our duty to support people in dire need, with the responsibility to have genuine control over our borders understandably provokes strong feelings.

"So it is my view that the basis for any solution shouldn’t just be what works, but what is right. The simplest moral framing for this issue, one I believe members on all sides of this House believe in is fairness.

"It is unfair that people come here illegally. It is unfair on those with a genuine case for asylum when our capacity to help is taken up by people coming through and from countries that are perfectly safe.

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"It is unfair on those who migrate here legally, when others come here by cheating the system and above all, it is unfair on the British people who play by the rules when others come here illegally and benefit from breaking those rules.”

After the announcement, Flynn told the Commons that no person seeking asylum is “illegal”, but agreed that the system is broken, adding: “We can't of course escape from the fact who has broken it.”

Adding that he shared worries over hotel accommodation for asylum seekers which he had visited, Flynn said he had “grave concerns” over the Tory government’s plans.

The National: Flynn said he had 'grave concerns' over the PM's announcementFlynn said he had 'grave concerns' over the PM's announcement (Image: UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor)

He said: “Grave concerns about the new proposed legislation. Grave concerns about the proposals in respect of accommodation and grave concerns about the one size fits all approach to asylum seekers emanating from Albania. 

“So in that regard, I would like to ask the Prime Minister a very simple question. Has he consulted with the United Nations High Commissioner on refugees in respect of these proposals, and if not, why not? 

“But ultimately the solutions don't lie in either or any of those above proposals, [they] rely on ensuring the safe and legal routes exist.”

Flynn then challenged the PM to outline “one single safe and legal route” for asylum seekers who wish to come to the UK. 

Sunak replied: “I’m happy to tell the honourable gentleman that the Development Secretary met last weekend with the UN high commissioner for refugees, but what I would say: It’s a point of difference between us and the parties opposite. We shouldn’t need the permission of someone outside to control our own borders.”

On safe and legal routes, Sunak claimed Flynn’s accusation is “absurd”, adding: “In the last few years, we have made offers of over 450,000 to welcome people from Afghanistan, from Syria, from Hong Kong, and most recently from Ukraine, and that’s because this is a compassionate tolerant country and it always will be.”

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Meanwhile, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the current system is “bad for refugees who want to rebuild their life, bad for taxpayers”, saying “it’s been bad under the Tories for years”.

He added: “I welcome the commitment to fast-track clearly unfounded claims. That’s what we’ve been calling for. And Britain is two years behind so many of our neighbours and allies who have been fast-tracking for years.”

“I also welcome more staff for processing. It’s appalling they let the backlog get this big. Nearly 100,000 cases have been waiting more than six months for a decision – that is the root cause."

Speaking after the announcement, the Scottish Greens said the Tories were "shamelessly playing politics with peoples lives". 

The National: Chapman hit back at the Tory government's plansChapman hit back at the Tory government's plans (Image: Jamie Simpson, NQ staff)

Maggie Chapman MSP said: “These announcements will have real life consequences for some of the most marginalised people and communities, who, once again, are being wheeled out as a scapegoat for the massive economic failings of this Tory government."

She added: "What we should be doing is offering safe routes and support to people who are making lives here, rather than constantly fixating on how they can be further punished.

“I have no doubt that future generations will look at the way that human beings have been treated with horror and disgust. But how many will suffer in the meantime? It is time to end the hostile environment for good."

Clare Moseley, founder of refugee charity Care4Calais, said that it was "appalling and grotesque" the that government is basing policy in "misinformation and misdirection".

She blasted: “A person’s right to asylum is based on the level of danger they are escaping from and does not depend on how they travel to the place where they are seeking sanctuary. 

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“The majority of people we work with in Calais come from places like Sudan, Afghanistan, Syria and Iran; countries that have asylum acceptance rates that are as high as 98% in the recently released Home Office asylum statistics.

"These are people who urgently need our help, and no safe and legal routes exist for the vast majority of these refugees."

Moseley said that treating refugees as criminals when they have no choice but to travel illegally is "sickening" victim blaming.

She added: “Today's announcements to stop small boat crossings are nothing new and will have no effect. To implement Sunak’s proposed plans the UK would have to abandon international treaties on refugees and human rights.

"There is a more humane and effective way to stop people risking their lives in small boats. We need to give safe passage to refugees in Calais.”