Downing Street has not ruled out barring illegal migrants from ever settling in the UK in an effort to crack down on the small boats crisis.
No 10 refused to “speculate” on future migration policy when presented with a series of proposals from the Centre for Policy Studies to cut the number of people making the perilous journey across the Channel.
In a new report, co-authored by Theresa May’s former adviser Nick Timothy, the centre-right think tank said no migrant who arrives in the UK illegally should ever be allowed to settle in the country.
The paper, with a foreword by Home Secretary Suella Braverman, also recommended legislating to make it impossible to claim asylum in Britain after travelling from a safe country.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said the Home Secretary “made clear” she did not agree with all of the report’s suggestions.
But it is true the Government recognises “the need to go further on this important issue”, he said.
Asked if Rishi Sunak thinks people who cross the Channel illegally should be able to claim asylum, the spokesman said: “I’ve seen lots of speculation around what may or may not be further policies to be introduced. So I’m not going to speculate.
“We do want to do more on this area. There is policy work ongoing currently, but I’m not going to get into what is or is not being considered at this stage.”
He also said the PM’s perspective on banning those entering the country illegally from ever settling in Britain would “fall into the category of further ideas that may not be being considered by Government”.
“I’m not going to get into all the sort of policy formulations that are being suggested. I don’t think that would be the right way to develop policy,” he said.
He refused to “speculate” again when asked if the PM would agree with moving towards a system of automatic detention on arrival.
The Centre for Policy Studies said there should be a “presumption of detention until deportation”.
However, the spokesman did stress there are “no plans” to bring in identity cards at present – another move suggested by the think tank.
“That hasn’t changed,” he said.
“As the Prime Minister said, we don’t think it’s the right way to solve the problem.”
The Centre for Policy Studies also called for the overhaul of human rights laws – with the UK “if necessary” withdrawing from the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) – to allow detentions and offshoring the processing of asylum claims.
Pressed on whether Mr Sunak is committed to the ECHR, the spokesman said said: “Our focus is on getting a grip on the illegal migration problem.
“We’ve said that the Bill of Rights will help restore common sense when it comes to these issues.”
“The British public are fair-minded, tolerant and generous in spirit. But we are fed up with the continued flouting of our laws and immigration rules to game our asylum system,” she wrote.
“And we’ve had enough of the persistent abuse of human rights laws to thwart the removal of those with no right to be in the UK. This must end.
“Saying so is not xenophobic or anti-immigration. It is the reality acknowledged and felt by the vast majority of the British public. To pretend otherwise is to insult them.”
She added: “The Prime Minister and I are committed to doing whatever it takes. We are finalising our plan, and we will deliver the operational and legislative changes necessary to comprehensively tackle this problem.”