British life-style: Human rights? Not for Britain

11:50 10.04.2024 •

Rishi Sunak has given his strongest signal yet that he is willing to remove the UK from the European Convention on Human Rights amid the stalemate over his Rwanda deportation plan.

The PM told The Sun’s Never Mind The Ballots programme that controlling immigration is more important than “membership of a foreign court”.

Critics have said the UK would be an international outlier if it left the convention, which is overseen by a court sitting in Strasbourg. The court’s president suggested in January the plan would breach international law.

Sunak, who said illegal migration offends a British “notion of fairness”, told the newspaper: “I believe that all plans are compliant with all of our international obligations including the ECHR, but I do believe that border security and making sure that we can control illegal migration is more important than membership of a foreign court because it’s fundamental to our sovereignty as a country.”

Britain and Rwanda signed a deal almost two years ago that would see migrants who cross the English Channel in small boats sent to the East African country, where they would remain permanently. So far, no migrant has been sent to Rwanda under the agreement.

The plan is key to Sunak’s pledge to “stop the boats” bringing unauthorised migrants to the UK. He argues that deporting asylum seekers will deter people from making risky journeys and break the business model of people-smuggling gangs.

Legislation to help get flights off the ground is currently stuck in a game of parliamentary “ping-pong” as the House of Lords votes against the plan.

Migrants gesture and take pictures as they cross the English Channel on a small boat.
Photo: EPA-EFE

Visas created hastily to solve labour shortages as a result of Brexit have put workers at greater risk of modern slavery and exploitation, research has found, notes ‘The Guardian’.

Strict conditions on agricultural and care visas created after Britain left the EU expose workers to “hyper-precarity” and increase their vulnerability to exploitation, a study by a coalition of leading universities and charities has concluded. Since Brexit, farm workers and care home workers have had a route to Britain on time-limited visas with stringent conditions.

Workers on the schemes faced significant issues of debt and deductions from wages because of illegal recruitment fees as well as costs incurred from travel, training, accommodation and high visa charges, researchers found. They also described deception by intermediaries, who misled workers about the conditions and length of employment they could expect.

Migrant workers’ vulnerability to exploitation was compounded by the hostile environment as fears of immigration enforcement action deterred them from reporting mistreatment or exploitation to the authorities, researchers found. The risks were increased by the fact that government agencies charged with enforcing employment rights were underfunded and did not have capacity to audit workplaces proactively, the study said.

Dr Inga Thiemann at the University of Leicester, who led the research team, said there was a high risk of “labour exploitation and debt bondage” under both visas. She said Brexit had made workers more vulnerable because those coming from Europe had previously “had the possibility to make complaints and to talk about labour exploitation because they wouldn’t risk their status automatically if their employer revoked the sponsorship”.

Thiemann added: “What we see a lot of in the care sector is that people aren’t willing to come forward even if they are experiencing severe labour abuse because they are not sure that they can find another sponsor within the timeframe that the Home Office gives them to do so. So they’re more afraid of losing their job and having to go back home and having all this debt they have incurred than they are of continuing with the exploitation they are experiencing.”

She said it needed to be easier for workers to change employers, so that moving jobs was “an actual possibility”, adding: “It cannot stay in this hypothetical state because otherwise workers are just too vulnerable.”


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