Labour has promised to introduce a new fast-tracking process for migrants from Albania and other “safe” countries in a bid to clear the huge backlog of claims.
Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper accused the government of failing to “get any grip” – saying it was time for a fast-track system so “unfounded asylum claims can be rejected and returned in a matter of weeks”.
The party cited Home Office figures showing that only 1 per cent of the 7,000 Albanians who made asylum claims arriving in small boats in the past year have had their case determined.
The party points to similar fast-track systems in use in Sweden and other European countries, claiming that such an approach could be implemented without the need to pass legislation or face legal challenges.
The last time Labour was in government it introduced a system – controversial at the time – that fast-tracked asylum claims believed to be manifestly unfounded, with decisions made within seven to 10 days.
Labour has said that a new fast-tracking scheme would allow the government to focus on asylum seekers who have fled persecution, while also saving taxpayers’ money on hotel accommodation.
“Other countries have had these systems in place for years,” said Ms Cooper. “But all we’ve had from Suella Braverman is more hyped-up rhetoric and promises of yet more legislation, even though the last round of legislation didn’t work.”
“It is a chaotic system at the moment – decision-making in the Home Office has collapsed, and that’s why we will get a grip on this,” she told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
She added: “Labour would immediately bring in fast-track systems to get a grip, clear the backlog and start targeting the criminal gangs who are driving this.”
Ms Cooper also claimed that Rishi Sunak has “sidelined” his home secretary Suella Braverman and is “excluding her” from key decisions about immigration.
“He reappointed her and now he’s sidelined her, and he’s obviously excluding her from the decisions,” she told Times Radio.
Ms Cooper added: “So that in itself is chaotic. If you’ve got Suella Braverman saying one thing, you’ve got [immigration minister] Robert Jenrick saying another, you’ve got Rishi Sunak saying something else entirely … We just get rhetoric from them. We don’t get practical plans.”
The government is reportedly reviewing plans to fast-track the removal of asylum seekers from designated “safe” countries, a list that would include Albania.
Ms Braverman was said to want to revive the New Labour government policy of creating a so-called “white list” of countries deemed to be safe, according to The Times.
However, a source close to the home secretary said they did not recognise the report and a “white list” policy was not in development.