“in the last 12 months alone 70% of the individuals who have come to our country illegally via small boats are single men, who are effectively economic migrants. They are not genuine asylum seekers.”

Priti Patel, Evidence to House of Lords Justice and Home Affairs Committee

October 26, 2021

Facts

Priti Patel told the House of Lords Justice and Home Affairs Committee that ”all the data and evidence has shown this—that in the last 12 months alone 70% of the individuals who have come to our country illegally via small boats are single men, who are effectively economic migrants. They are not genuine asylum seekers. They are able to pay the smugglers and get in contact with the gangs, whether they are in northern France or Germany. These are the ones who are elbowing out the women and children, who are at risk and fleeing persecution"

A report by the Refugee Council challenged this conclusion: The findings of this report show that people who cross the Channel and enter into the asylum system are likely to be recognised as being in need of protection. Examination of the nationalities of people who arrive via small boats shows that over 91% of people come from just 10 countries of origin. Of these, eight of the countries have a higher grant rate (i.e. are granted asylum) than the overall grant rate for all nationalities, a clear indicator that the majority of people crossing the Channel are likely to be recognised as being in need of protection at the initial decision-making stage. Furthermore, nine of the countries in the top 10 have a higher success rate at appeal than the overall success rate, a clear indicator that the majority of people crossing the Channel who lodge an appeal after having their case refused by the Home Office are likely to have the refusal overturned by the court.

We approached the Home Office with a request or evidence to support the Home Secretary’s claim that 70% of individuals on small boats are single men who are effectively economic migrants. No reply.

Verdict

Priti Patel’s claim that 70% of individuals on small boats are single men who are effectively economic migrants was not backed up by evidence and has been challenged by credible authorities. According to the Ministerial Code,  “It is of paramount importance that Ministers give accurate and truthful information to Parliament, correcting any inadvertent error at the earliest opportunity.  Ministers who knowingly mislead Parliament will be expected to offer their resignation to the Prime Minister.” Priti Patel was misleading parliament in defiance of the Ministerial Code. 

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