Priti Patel has defended Home Office immigration raids in Scotland, saying they are “what the British public have voted for and what they want”.
The comments come ten days after police released two men who had been detained by Border Force officials in Glasgow after protestors surrounded the van they were being held in and prevented it from leaving.
Demonstrators blocked the immigration enforcement van for several hours in Kenmure Street, Pollokshields, with one even lying underneath the vehicle, before a senior Police Scotland officer decided to release the detained men on public safety grounds.
Following the incident the Scottish Government said the Home Office’s conduct had been “unacceptable”, but Ms Patel was resolute on the matter when quizzed today.
Appearing at a think tank question and answer session, she said: “We will continue to do that, that is effectively what the British public have voted for, what they want.
“Actually it’s part of my legal duty as well and responsibility in terms of not just immigration enforcement but removing those with no legal right to be here.”
The remarks came as Ms Patel pledged wholesale reform of the UK’s “broken” immigration system.
The Home Secretary vowed to deliver a system that works for the “law-abiding majority” and against those who seek to “abuse our hospitality and generous spirit”.
She also launched the US-style Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA), which requires visitors to the UK to obtain an electronic permit before travelling.
This would make the border more secure, with automatic checks allowing the Government to “count people in and count people out” of the country, providing a “far clearer picture of who is here, and whether they should be”, she said, adding: “And we will act when they are not.”
ETAs will be required by anyone without a visa or immigration status – although they will not be needed by Irish citizens – with ministers promising the system will be operational by the end of 2025.
We’re introducing a fully digital border system to make 🇬🇧 safer:
✅ Making it easier to ban serious & dangerous foreign criminals with a US-style ETA.
✅ Making the system easier to navigate for businesses.
✅ Allowing us to count people in & out of the UK for the 1st time. pic.twitter.com/CZhVAk680G
— Priti Patel (@pritipatel) May 24, 2021
In her speech to a conference organised by the Bright Blue and British Future think tanks, Ms Patel said: “So to the question ‘what’s next for immigration?’, the answer is wholescale reform of the system.
“Anything short of that would not be fair, would not keep our country safe, and would not meet the demands of the British people I serve.
“They want a new system that works for the law-abiding majority and against those who hope to abuse our hospitality and generosity.
“One that welcomes those most in need of sanctuary and slams the door on dangerous criminals.
“One that attracts top talent from around the world.
“Our immigration system is broken and we will fix it.”