The Immigration Minister said last night that Gedling's Conservative Member of Parliament, Tom Randall, 'spoke for the country' in a lively debate to pass new laws to stop small boats crossing the English Channel.
Participating in the debate, Tom said: “We are a rich country—the world’s fifth largest economy. We have international obligations, and it is right that we meet them. In 2020, we were the third highest donor to overseas development in the OECD in absolute terms, and the sixth highest as a proportion of gross national income. We have welcomed thousands of people to this country from Syria, Afghanistan, Ukraine and Hong Kong. Whether through the Government and the taxpayer or through people opening their homes, we have seen the great generosity of British people. Indeed, Gary Lineker was correct today to write, as he did on Twitter, that we are “a country of predominantly tolerant, welcoming and generous people.”
Tom went on to say: “Where I think that [Gary Lineker], and others who make the opposing argument, is wrong is that he ignores the fact that that tolerance can be tested and that generosity, while deep, is not limitless.
“I take a rather hawkish view on immigration. It should be in the tens of thousands rather than the hundreds of thousands, but I have been surprised by the depth of feeling of Gedling residents on this issue. If I hold a supermarket surgery or knock on people’s doors, what is raised with me unprompted—if not potholes—is the issue of boats and migrants. I think the depth of that feeling is understandable, given the context.
“Albania is the top country for small boat arrivals, with 25%. However, compared to other countries, Albania does not face the major international issues for which people request asylum. While there are pull-factors, including language and shared history, the passage of asylum seekers through multiple safe countries undermines the idea that the system we have is one based on fairness.
“The asylum case load has doubled since 2014; that increasing burden is unfair to those who are already in the system, awaiting a decision. As we have seen in numerous television pictures, the people arriving across the channel are mainly male, whereas it would be commonly understood that it is mainly women and children who are the most vulnerable. It is also wrong that asylum claims should be granted after a cross-channel migration that has the role of the smuggler as a de facto part of the asylum process. Therefore, it is right that we tackle the issue robustly.”
Tom ended his contribution to the debate by reading from a letter posted to him over the weekend by a Gedling constituent: “I can put it no better than the person who put an anonymous note through my door at the weekend, which said: “Dear Mr Randall, I implore you to vote to stop this vile trade. It has to stop now, and you and your fellow MPs can make it happen.”
“Today, we can make that happen; we must stop this vile trade.”
While summarising the debate, the Immigration Minister said: “This has been a passionate debate characterised by many excellent speeches, and I commend among others on my the Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Sir Robert Neill), the Member for Gainsborough (Sir Edward Leigh) and the Member for Boston and Skegness (Matt Warman) for a series of outstanding speeches. I commend none more than my hon. Friend the Member for Gedling (Tom Randall), who said that his constituent had told him: “I implore you to vote to stop this vile trade…and you and your fellow MPs can make it happen.”
“He spoke for the country.”
Speaking after the debate, Tom Randall MP said: “Over 45,000 people illegally crossed the Channel in small boats last year, putting pressure on local public services and abusing our laws and asylum protections to remain here. Many of those arriving in small boats originate from safe countries and travel through safe countries to skip the queue. That is unfair on those who come here legally and unfair on the British people who play by the rules – that is why the Prime Minister made stopping small boats one of his five priorities.
“This Bill that I have voted for will, once passed into law, mean that if you enter the UK illegally you will be detained and removed to a safe country within weeks. These new laws will also mean that illegal migrants will not be able to remain in the UK while their asylum claim is being processed and any human rights claims will be heard after removal.
“From listening to the views of constituents during my supermarket surgeries and while knocking on their doors, I know that these measures are supported by the majority of residents across Gedling and they have my full support.”