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The Election, Refugees & Asylum Seekers

On Friday 7th June, leading figures from seven of the main UK political parties debated a variety of issues on live TV that people should consider prior to voting on Thursday 4th July. These parties are the Conservatives, Labour, the Scottish National Party (SNP), the Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru, the Green Party, and Reform UK. This blog post will focus on what each of these seven manifestos has to say about refugees and asylum seekers.

Firstly, the Conservatives. This party, which introduced the Rwanda Asylum Plan, intends to have monthly flights to this country in Central Africa, regardless of direction from the European Court of Human Rights. Other plans set out by the Conservatives include processing all claims within six months and ending the use of hotels for accommodating asylum seekers.

Labour believes that the Rwanda Asylum Plan cannot work, and intends to use the funding allocated to this for a new Border Security Command instead. They hope this Command will help prevent the activities of people smuggling gangs, whilst the Conservatives hope to have the same result through the work of the existing National Crime Agency and intelligence services. The Labour manifesto also states an intention to deal with the continued backlog of claims to be processed and the use of hotels for accommodating asylum seekers, stating that these issues are due to Conservative policies.

Like Labour, the SNP wants to scrap the Rwanda Asylum Plan. They hope to improve the lives of asylum seekers by granting them the right to work and ensuring the suitability of their accommodation. Moreover, the SNP wants to allow all refugees in the UK to vote, as is already the case in Scotland.

The Liberal Democrats also do not intend to proceed with the Rwanda Asylum Plan, instead using the savings for clearing the backlog of claims to be processed. Their manifesto states they will process all claims within three months, halving the six months proposed by the Conservatives, and prevent the activities of people smuggling gangs. In addition, the Liberal Democrats hope to improve the lives of asylum seekers by granting them the right to work. However, unlike the SNP, their manifesto specifically says asylum seekers only get this right if they continue to await a decision on their claim after three months.

On to Plaid Cymru, and we have another party which does not support the Rwanda Asylum Plan, the current long processing times for asylum claims, or the restrictions on employment whilst awaiting decisions. In addition, their manifesto specifically mentions disappointment that the Welsh Government recently put an end to the Welcome Ticket which allowed free travel for refugees on public transport.

The Green Party do not mention the Rwanda Asylum Plan at any point in their manifesto. However, they do refer to the need to process asylum claims quickly and their intention to grant asylum seekers the right to work. In addition, the Green Party believes it is wrong for the Home Office to be responsible for both immigration and law enforcement, so would separate these functions through the creation of new Departments.

Reform UK’s manifesto also does not refer to the Conservatives’ Rwanda Asylum Plan. However, the European Court of Human Rights has attempted to stop this scheme coming to fruition, and Reform wants the UK to leave the Convention that established the Court. Unlike Reform, the Conservatives have not gone as far as pledging to leave the Convention that was established to protect civil and political freedoms. Reform also goes a step further with its intent to take migrants crossing the Channel in small boats back to France.

Please consider these seven stances on how the UK government should treat refugees and asylum seekers when deciding which of them has your vote.

The full manifestos can be read here:

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