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Patel’s Wishlist

  • Opinion

Madihah Najeeb, BA Global Liberal Arts

As we enter 2022 feeling oblivious as to what will be thrown our way, a certain Home Secretary has made her New Year’s Resolutions known to the nation and it seems she does not plan on backing down. 

Home Secretary Priti Patel’s New Years video message, shared across social media, delivered her promise to crack down on environmental protestors. She claims the environmental protests have ‘caused misery to the law-abiding public.’ She also vowed to put an end to the ‘legal merry-go- round’ of ‘spurious’ asylum seeker claims in 2022. 

Along with this message, Patel reflected on the achievements gained in 2021 such as the anti-violence strategy for women and girls, and the recruitment of more than 11,000 police officers – out of the 20,000 that were initially promised. 

Following from this, the Home Secretary stated there was ‘much more to do’ to tighten the current asylum laws, stating: 

‘I will also continue to prioritise fixing our broken asylum system. It has been untouched for two decades, but passing the (Nationality and) Borders Bill into law in 2022 will finally give us the powers we need to deliver long-overdue change.’ 

The Nationality and Borders Bill is a new plan aiming to reform the current asylum system. The bill should supposedly make it fairer and more effective to protect those in genuine need of asylum, deterring illegal entry into the UK. 

Patel hopes that this new bill will break the business model of criminal trafficking networks, save lives, and remove from the UK those with no right to be there. However, the bill can be perceived as problematic. 

Some see the bill as an intensification of a hostile environment for asylum seekers who are fleeing the life-threatening circumstances of their home country. One of the most concerning aspects of the bill is Article 9: ‘Notice of decision to deprive a person of citizenship.’These new amendments permit the government to strip individuals of their British citizenship without warning or explanation. 

In regards to the environmental protests, eco-protestors have been taking to the streets for peaceful protests since September 13th, 2021. By blocking roads and disrupting court proceedings, the protestors aimed to share their concerns on the government’s lack of action to address the climate crisis. 

Political awareness of this was raised when activists of Insulate Britain blocked major roads across London, the ports of Dover, Manchester, and Birmingham on 19 different occasions. Politicians named the protestors selfish for their tactics. 

Whilst both issues appear to be causing much disruption to the ‘law-abiding public’ of this country, Patel’s ‘legal wishlist’ does little to resolve the problems. The reasons for the eco-protest and the increasing number of asylum seekers are not motivated by malice. 

Eco-protestors are spreading their concern for the lack of government action regarding the climate crisis, and asylum seekers are left with no choice but to flee from the dangers of their home country to seek refuge. Both these occurrences require fast resolving actions from the government. 

Instead, the Home Secretary has resorted to imposing a harsh agenda which criminalises the peaceful eco-protestors and asylum seekers. Essentially, the causes are being manipulated to look illegal, when they are not. 

With the government aiming to suppress both matters, where does our role lie when it comes to showing solidarity for these causes? Does the Home Secretary’s plan to criminalise eco-protestors and asylum seekers criminalise our show of support for these matters? With the callousness of these promises, it appears that the government is using such plans to evoke a sense of fear in the participants of these causes rather than addressing the matters with actual solutions. 

Patel’s determination to suppress both matters causes the UK to become a hostile environment, for both asylum seekers and peaceful environmental protestors. 

“The Home Secretary’s plan for 2022 is to resort to the blame game instead of providing solutions to pressing matters.”

Once again we can see the government hiding away from addressing matters of great urgency and channelling more of their efforts into extinguishing these situations entirely rather than providing support to them. It seems the Home Secretary’s plan for 2022 is to resort to the blame game instead of providing solutions to pressing matters. 

Photo Caption: Priti Patel announces her plans to tackle eco protesters and tighten asylum laws (Credit: UK Prime Minister via Creative Commons).

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