More than 50 Tory MPs have urged PM Rishi Sunak to alter “quirks” in modern slavery laws to make it easier to send some migrants home.
The letter, arranged by former Brexit secretary David Davis, demands those travelling from “safe countries”, such as Albania, be returned more quickly. The MPs maintain a “simple” change in the law could ease the current crisis.
A Home Office source said Home Secretary Suella Braverman was “working flat out” to solve the issue. The source said Ms Braverman and Mr Sunak were working “to bring in reforms to help stem the flow of migrants across the Channel”.
They are facing mounting pressure to reduce the migrant numbers crossing the Channel in small boats. Last week, figures calculated by the BBC suggested more than 40,000 migrants have crossed in small boats from France so far this year.
In the letter, Tory backbenchers including Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee, describe the crossings as a “Gordian Knot that needs cutting with a simple policy”.
The signatories argue that a provision in current law prevents the government from returning a person who says they are a victim of modern slavery to their original home.
“If they have really been taken against their will, then they could not reasonably object to being returned to their own homes,” the letter said.
“The quirks in our modern slavery laws that prevent this are clearly in defiance of the aims of that law and should be removed.
MPs, including former Cabinet ministers Dr Liam Fox and Esther McVey, and longest-serving MP Sir Peter Bottomley, are among the 50-strong body of Conservative politicians calling for the change.
They argue this “straightforward and legally workable way of addressing the crisis” would be a “very strong deterrent” to those who might be planning to make the trip across the Channel.
The large majority of migrants claim asylum on arrival in the UK and many are housed in hotels while awaiting the outcome of their applications, which are often subject to delay.
In other news – Colossal dinosaur heading for UK display
A replica of what could have been the largest animal ever to walk on land is coming to London in the New Year.
A cast of the sauropod dinosaur known as Patagotitan will go on show at the Natural History Museum – assuming it fits within the gallery space. Measuring some 35m (115ft) from nose to tail, the beast could have weighed up to 60 or 70 tonnes in life. Learn more