Launched in March 2021, the UK government’s New Plan for Immigration is quickly moving towards parliament, after a short and contested period of consultation, ‘worth no more than the paper on which it was printed’, tells me Zoe Gardner, policy advisor with the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, in the new episode of Conversations with Iris, to mark #RefugeeWeek2021

Despite its title, the UK government’s new plan neither offers a holistic view on immigration nor provides a strategy to harness the benefit of immigration for the country. From page 1, Priti Patel’s plan is framed as a crusade against ‘illegal immigration’, everything that follows in terms of (often vague) proposals stems from this entry point. While not surprising rhetorically coming from a right wing nationalist government, it is nonetheless noticeable that in proposing a new approach to immigration, the government choses to focus on what most scholars would characterise as numerically a small part of the phenomen, distorting public perceptions for electoral gains. The plan also appropriates humanitarian language and proposals like for example the need to provide safe routes for asylum seekers to validate its plan to curtail the right to claim asylum in the UK.

A number of proposals had been announced or leaked to the press earlier this year, in particular concerning draconian changes to the asylum system, these initiatives pose a significant threat to the right to international protection for refugees and undermine the principles enshrined in the 1951 Geneva Convention and international law.