The Prime Minister has said that the law will be changed such that no one who arrives in the country illegally will be eligible to remain - or words to that effect.

Given that there is no legal method of entering the UK available to most refugees, does this mean that Britain's long-held policy of granting asylum, to people in danger of death or persecution in their own country, will be abandoned?

If that is the case why doesn't he say so?

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    Nobody knows what will happen for sure. Dec 15, 2022 at 22:37
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    Just for context, worldpopulationreview.com shows the UK harbouring 223,578 refugees. France hosts almost twice as many and Germany over six times that number. Dec 18, 2022 at 14:05
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    @DaveGremlin Indeed! When people complain about France not doing more to help I often quote those kind of statistics. Germany - the grown-up in the room, with a desperately ageing population - sees an advantage in taking immigrants. Far from being a drain on society, as they are depicted by Britain's tabloid media, the country benefits greatly from the arrival of people ready for employment, and for whom we have to bear none of the early-years' costs of education etc.
    – WS2
    Dec 18, 2022 at 14:22

1 Answer 1


The Government's position is indeed that only those who claim asylum through 'safe and legal routes' will be eligible for asylum in the UK. This was set out by Sunak on the 13th in the House of Commons:

The only way to come to the UK for asylum will be through safe and legal routes and, as we get a grip on illegal migration, we will create more of those routes. We will work with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to identify those who are most in need so that the UK remains a safe haven for the most vulnerable.

The intention, apparently, is that all those who claim asylum after entering the UK through illegal routes - such as a small boat crossing from France - will be removed to a third country like Rwanda (see this memorandum of understanding) where their claim will be processed. When challenged by Stephen Flynn of the SNP to 'outline one single safe and legal route' that an asylum seeker could currently take to arrive in the UK, Sunak pointed to the programs for refugees from Afghanistan, Syria, and other countries:

Lastly, the hon. Gentleman made the frankly absurd claim that we do not have safe and legal routes into the UK. In the last few years, we have made offers of over 450,000 places to welcome people from Afghanistan, Syria, Hong Kong and, most recently, Ukraine. That is because this is a compassionate, tolerant country, and it always will be.

Here, Sunak is referring to programmes such as the Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme, the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme, the Hong Kong British Nationals (Overseas) Welcome Programme and the Homes for Ukraine Scheme. These programmes gave refugees the option to apply for resettlement while outside of the UK - it seems that further programmes of this type are what is being promised for the future.

So Sunak is rejecting the allegation that Britain is abandoning its international obligations, pointing to these recent arrivals. He does however, admit that the establishment of further safe and legal routes will only be looked at after the Government "gets a grip on illegal migration". Whether these safe and legal routes will materialise remains to be seen, of course.

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    The UK wants to send refugees to Rwanda even if they are not from there? So, ah, can Rwanda remove refugees to the UK for processing?
    – Obie 2.0
    Dec 15, 2022 at 19:18
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    @Obie2.0 I should point out that this is with the agreement of Rwanda, they're not just popping them on a plane and crossing their fingers that Rwanda doesn't notice - see this memorandum of understanding
    – CDJB
    Dec 15, 2022 at 19:25
  • So can we also expect the UK to be understanding if Rwanda wants to send some of the refugees entering Rwanda from other countries to the UK? Does the memorandum provide for that as well?
    – Obie 2.0
    Dec 15, 2022 at 19:26
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    The Rwanda scheme was first announced on 13 April this year, and well in excess of £100 million has been spent on setting it up. But so far not a single refugee has been sent there - and many doubt that any ever will be. I'm not sure what sort of odds people like Ladbrokes, and Fredbet are offering against anyone being deported there in the next five years, but I suspect it would be odds against rather than odds in favour.
    – WS2
    Dec 15, 2022 at 23:00

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