Priti Patel appointment as Home Sec panders to right-wing

Responding to the appointment of Priti Patel as the new Home Secretary, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Ed Davey said:

“The job of the Home Secretary is to keep our country safe and ensure that everyone’s rights are respected.

“But now we have a Conservative Home Secretary who voted against allowing same sex couples to marry, has argued that it is wrong for citizens to hold the Government to account through the courts, and is one of the most enthusiastic advocates of Brexit – which would rob British police of the European Arrest Warrant and other crucial crime-fighting tools.

“The Liberal Democrats demand better from a Home Secretary. We will always fight to protect the rights of every individual, to give our police the tools and resources they need to prevent crime and keep communities safe, and to stop Brexit.

“By appointing Priti Patel as Home Secretary, Boris Johnson is continuing to pander to right-wing Brexiteers instead of putting the interests of the United Kingdom first. More proof that he is not fit to be Prime Minister.”

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Ed Davey has written to the new Home Secretary:

Dear Home Secretary,

Congratulations on your appointment as Home Secretary. I hope this will mark a fresh start for a department that has been badly mismanaged by your predecessors, who have contributed to the rise in violent crime by taking police officers off our streets, shattered public confidence in the immigration system, and injected a toxic culture into the way immigration and asylum applications are handled.

Crime and policing

With knife crime up 77% since 2015, gun crime up 36% and the number of homicides up 30%, I’m sure you will agree that we need urgent action to tackle the epidemic of violence that is destroying far too many young lives.

You will no doubt be provided with the Home Office’s analysis that Conservative police cuts have likely contributed to the rise in serious violence. Will you commit to providing police forces with the funding they desperately need to recruit more officers, restore community policing, and fully fund pay rises for police officers?

Some of the most important crime-fighting tools British police possess are reliant on the UK’s membership of the European Union: the European Arrest Warrant, EU-wide data-sharing systems such as the Schengen Information System, and our leadership role in Europol and Eurojust. These are particularly crucial for tackling the biggest cross-border criminal threats we face: human trafficking, the illegal drug trade, cybercrime and terrorism. Will you please confirm what official advice you have been given on the status of these arrangements if we leave the European Union? 

And will you introduce a proper public health approach to youth violence, working with your Cabinet colleagues to ensure that education, housing, social work and mental health services all have the funding and resources they need to stop violence spreading?

In particular, I urge you to persuade your colleagues in the Treasury and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to invest in genuinely innovative and engaging youth services, to provide young people with a positive alternative to gangs and violence.

Immigration and asylum

You have spoken in the past about the need to restore public confidence in our immigration system, and I agree with you. That requires us to build an effective, compassionate system that reflects each person’s dignity, respects the rule of law and ensures fairness to taxpayers.

I therefore urge you to abolish your party’s arbitrary, damaging net migration target and end the Hostile Environment, including dropping your predecessor’s appeal against the High Court’s ruling that the ‘Right to Rent’ law is discriminatory and breaches human rights. Enforcement of immigration laws must be in the hands of a more accountable, well-resourced, intelligence-led Border Force – not landlords, teachers and doctors.

There are two other areas in particular where you could inject compassion and common sense while also saving taxpayers money. Indefinite immigration detention is unnecessary, inhumane and expensive; it should be reduced to an absolute last resort, with a 28-day time limit. Meanwhile, the thousands of asylum seekers who are forced to wait more than three months while their cases are decided should be allowed to work, instead of having to live on £37.75 a week from the Government.

Given the ongoing global refugee crisis, with 26 million refugees and 3.5 million asylum seekers around the world today, it is essential that the UK provides safe, legal routes to sanctuary for those who are forced to flee their homes. I urge you to finally fulfil the Government’s commitment under the “Dubs Amendment” (Section 67 of the Immigration Act 2016) to relocate 480 unaccompanied refugee children from elsewhere in Europe, as well as to guarantee the future of refugee resettlement schemes after 2020 and commit to resettling a further 10,000 refugee children in the UK over the next 10 years. 

Human rights

Finally, will you please confirm that the Human Rights Act will not be repealed and that the Government will continue to be committed to the European Convention on Human Rights? Contrary to your past comments about them, these are essential for protecting fundamental British rights and freedoms, and the Liberal Democrats will oppose any attempts to undermine them.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on these issues, and I hope we can work together to build a safer, freer, fairer country where individuals have their rights and dignity respected. Good luck!

Yours sincerely,

Ed Davey MP
Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson

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