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Priti Patel Says Glasgow Immigration Raid That Detained Two Men Was What The British "Voted For"

3 min read

Home Secretary Priti Patel has said the Glasgow immigration raid that caused outcry in Scotland is something she would approve again and is what the “British people voted for”.

Her comment is likely to deepen tension between the UK government and Scotland over immigration policy after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s Labour leader Anas Sarwar and 25 other politicians wrote to Patel to say they opposed unannounced raids, adding that “Scotland has a very different attitude to immigration.”

The letter read: "We do not support these raids at any time... They are expensive, harmful, lacking in compassion, and more often than not aimed at people who are no threat to public safety."

Hundreds of people took to the streets in protest when two Indian men were detained in a dawn raid in the Pollokshields area of Glasgow on May 14. The Home Office is set to pursue the men’s deportation as they are believed to have outstayed the terms of their visas.

The joint letter from the Scottish politicians, which was backed by MPs, MSPs and the leader of Glasgow City Council, said that Patel’s wider immigration plan has no support in Scotland.

At a major speech today outlining her “New Plan for Immigration,” Patel was asked if all communities share her enthusiasm for immigration control and if the Glasgow incident would make her re-think her approach.

She said: “In response to Glasgow and the removal of people that had no legal right to be in the UK, I’ve already said we will continue to do that, that is effectively what the British public have voted for, [what] they want.”

“It’s part of my legal duty, and responsibilities, of not just immigration enforcement but removing those with no legal right to be here.”She said her plans for a new system cover both those fleeing persecution and removing those with no legal basis to stay in the UK and would be firm but fair. 

Among plans for a post-Brexit immigration model is the well publicised points-based system and a US-style Electronic Travel Authorisation scheme for people coming into the UK, which the Home Office said will make it easier to ban foreign criminals. Patel did not say how much it would cost visitors, and that the new scheme would require legislation.

On asylum, she said she wants to protect those in genuine need as well as reform a system that is costing the British taxpayer £1 billion a year. Life sentences will be rolled out for those caught smuggling people into the UK and no-one can claim asylum if they arrive on UK shores from a small boat. There is also a new agreement with India that means deportations can be fast-tracked for those with no legal right to stay in the UK.

She hit out at the “political left” during her flagship speech, hosted by Conservative think-tank Bright Blue, claiming they believe they own the “monopoly of thought” on the issues of race and immigration and that even discussing immigration policy can lead to claims of racism. She said the left do not speak for the silent majority of Britons who look to the government to establish controls on who comes to the UK.

Public support exists for her immigration reforms, she claims, since British people chose to take back control of their borders at the EU referendum vote in 2016, and drove home the same message at the 2019 general election.

Patel said the British people had withdrawn their support for the “broken immigration system” and she has a democratic mandate to fix it.

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