THE UK Government has been warned its Illegal Migration Bill is an attempt at a short-term fix which risks “great damage” to the country’s interests and reputation.

The Archbishop of Canterbury condemned the legislation in a rare intervention in the House of Lords, as the bill faced its first test in the upper chamber on Wednesday.

The Most Rev Justin Welby told peers there are “too many problems for one speech” in the legislation and that international protections for refugees were “not inconvenient obstructions to get round by any legislative means necessary”.

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He said: “It does not require a lawyer to see that what is suggested is a dramatic departure from what was ever envisaged in international law since 1951.

“Even if this bill succeeded in temporarily stopping the boats, and I don’t think it will, it won’t stop conflict or climate migration.

“The IPCC forecasts that climate change by itself, let alone the conflicts it is already causing, will lead to at least 800 million more refugees a year in total by 2050.

“And what if other countries follow suit? The UNHCR has warned the bill could lead to the collapse of the international system that protects refugees.

The National:

"Is that what we want the United Kingdom’s contribution to be in our leadership?”

The Archbishop said that it was “not possible to take everyone and nor should we” – but added that the legislation did not take into account the long-term and global nature of the challenge the world faces.

He said: “It is isolationist, it is morally unacceptable and politically impracticable to let the poorest countries deal with the crisis alone and cut our international aid.”

He went on to say: “This bill is an attempt at a short-term fix. It risks great damage to the UK’s interests and reputation at home and abroad, let alone the interests of those in need of protection or the nations who together face this challenge.

“Our interests as a nation are closely linked to our reputation for justice and the rule of law and to our measured language, calm decision and careful legislation. None of those are seen here.”

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Welby argued the House of Lords must change but not throw out the bill and urged the UK Government to reconsider it as it “fails to live up to our history, our moral responsibility and our political and international interests”.

Ahead of the debate, peers were urged by the UK Government to back the controversial legislation to allow it to “get on with stopping the boats” – claiming it is what the British people want.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman said: “We cannot allow a system to continue which incentivises people to risk their lives and pay people smugglers to come to this country illegally.

“This is neither compassionate nor fair, which is why our Illegal Migration Bill is designed to end illegal entry as a route to asylum in the UK by deterring migrants from making the journey in the first place.

“The British people want us to stop the boats. That is exactly what this bill will help us do.”