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Top Stories: UK To Increase Migrant Detention Capacity, Global Women's Strategy Announced

Suella Braverman has said the UK will increase its migrant detention capacity (Alamy)

7 min read

Home Secretary Suella Braverman has said the government will increase detention capacity in order to carry out powers in the new Illegal Migration Bill.

The new legislation was introduced in parliament on Tuesday in an effort to reduce illegal migration to the UK, and will enable the detention of illegal migrants without bail or judicial review within the first 28 days of detention, until they can be removed.

However, the plans have faced criticism, including concerns that the UK does not have enough detention spaces to hold thousands of migrants – as of 20 December, more than 45,000 people had crossed the Channel in small vessels since the start of 2022.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman told BBC Breakfast that the government will increase the UK’s detention capacity, but did not provide details on how or where this would be done. 

“We are going to be rolling out extra detention places,” Braverman said. 

“We want to ensure the swift removal of people, that’s why Rwanda is so integral to our plan.

“The British people have had enough of this situation of thousands of people coming here illegally at huge cost to the taxpayer and undermining our laws and British generosity. That needs to stop.”

New arrivals who cross the Channel illegally will be removed to a ‘third’ country under the plans, with some being sent to Rwanda, and then banned from ever returning or claiming citizenship in the UK. 

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper accused the government of only providing “gimmicks” rather than “solutions”.

She told BBC Breakfast: “All you’ve got is gimmicks. All you’ve got is the government saying things and saying grand statements. 

“What people right across the country want is some answers, they want some solutions.”

The Labour frontbencher said the government’s policy of criminalising those arriving by boats is “not working”.

Labour’s proposals include a new cross-border police force to tackle border crossings, which Cooper argued would be “more effective” than the government’s plans. 

New global women's strategy announced on International Women’s Day

The government has launched a new global women and girls’ strategy to mark International Women’s Day. 

The strategy includes measures to further women’s rights by collaborating with international partners, supporting grassroots women’s rights organisations, and providing funding for a sexual health programme to support women internationally.

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said: “Advancing gender equality and challenging discrimination is obviously the right thing to do, but it also brings freedom, boosts prosperity and trade, and strengthens security – it is the fundamental building block of all healthy democracies.

“Our investment to date has improved lives around the world, with more girls in school, fewer forced into early marriage and more women in top political and leadership roles.

“But these hard-won gains are now under increasing threat. We’re ramping up our work to tackle the inequalities which remain, at every opportunity.”

The government has also announced that it will set out new standards for equal access to sports to ensure girls and boys are offered the same sports in PE at school.

Former prime minister Boris Johnson tweeted in support of gender equality in education.  

“Hundreds of millions of girls around the world are still being given a shorter or more perfunctory education than boys,” he said.

“This is an absolute disgrace. It’s time for the world to commit to 12 years of quality education for every girl #IWD2023”

Meanwhile, Labour has launched a review to work on closing the gender pay gap, according to The Guardian. 

Former Trades Union Congress (TUC) chief and Labour peer Frances O’Grady has been asked to lead the review and will join Labour’s frontbench in creating a plan to tackle barriers to equal pay. 

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the average working woman earns 15 per cent less than the typical working man. 

Rail strikes suspended as union receives pay offer

The Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers' union (RMT) has suspended its rail strikes after receiving a new pay offer from Network Rail. 

Strikes were due to take place on 16 March, but have now been called off after some headway was made in negotiations. 

The RMT will ballot members to decide whether to accept or reject the offer, and further updates are expected later in the week. 

Network Rail Chief Executive Andrew Haines said: "We are relieved for our people, passengers and freight customers that industrial action in Network Rail has now been suspended."

Buffer zones outside abortion clinics to become law

Plans to create buffer zones that prohibit protests around abortion clinics will become law after MPs voted against an amendment from members opposed to the zones. 

The amendment was to allow “silent prayer” outside abortion clinics, but pro-choice MPs argued this would allow protestors a way to intimidate and harass women entering and leaving the centres. 

This vote was the final hurdle for the Public Order Bill to be passed in parliament. 

Once enacted, the law will mean protesters outside abortion clinics could be found guilty of breaching a “safe access zone” surrounding 150 metres from clinics. 

Protestors positioned in these zones could be fined. 

Labour MP Stella Creasy, a vocal pro-choice campaigner, expressed her relief that the bill has finally been passed. 

“Let’s be very clear, nothing in the Lords’ amendment criminalises prayer,” she said.

“What it says is that there is a time and a place for everything.”

Creasy argued you have to balance the right to prayer and freedom of speech with a women’s “right to privacy”.

“She [a woman] has a right to privacy that when she has made that choice she should not be impeded,” Creasy added. 

 

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