Reform to asylum seeker rules imminent
Home Secretary Priti Patel has announced landmark reforms to the process by which those seeking to claim asylum in the UK can do so. The reforms, which Labour say lack both compassion and competence, afford greater entitlements to those who arrive in the UK through the proper channels rather than by ‘illegal means’. The move has been criticised by human rights lawyers who say that the changes are unlawful under the Refugee Convention.
The rules go further as they include clauses that would permit the Government to deport migrants who entered through illegal routes, even if they have been granted asylum. The Government insists that the rules are vital in countering the exploitation of migrants from illegal gangs. We will have to see whether the new rules make any difference to the numbers seeking to enter the UK through illegal means, or whether they merely make it more difficult for genuine asylum seekers to live in safety.
‘Greedy’ Boris eats his words
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has come under heavy criticism this week after telling the 1922 committee that: ‘The reason we have the vaccine success is because of capitalism, because of greed, my friends.’ Mr Johnson quickly withdrew his comments, and numerous MPs have since offered contextual explanations for them. One excuse given was that the PM was referring to Chief Whip Mark Spencer, who was eating a cheese and pickle sandwich.
Relatedly, the Prime Minister has attempted to be a considerate arbiter in disputes between the UK and the EU over the vaccine. This seems to have generated success; a joint UK-EU statement on 24 March promised vaccine co-operation that has de-escalated tensions. Parts of the UK have attempted to portray the EU as the villain of the piece and there may be some truth to those accusations. Winning the moral argument is one of the key reasons why sources close to the PM were so quick to rebut accusations that the comments were made in relation to vaccines
Sturgeon survives no confidence vote
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has survived a no confidence vote in the Scottish Parliament after both Labour and the Liberal Democrats abstained. The SNP and Greens voted against the motion, which was tabled by the Conservatives. The vote was called after an inquiry by MSPs found that she had mislead Parliament over when she first knew about the sexual harassment claims made against former First Minister Alex Salmond. This was despite an independent inquiry, led by former Irish Attorney General James Hamilton QC, clearing her of any wrongdoing.