LORDS

Concerns over refugee protection after Brexit raised by Committee

09 September 2019

The EU Home Affairs Sub-Committee writes to the Home Secretary Priti Patel MP sharing key findings from its inquiry on the implications of Brexit for refugee protection and asylum policy.

Background

The Committee finished hearing evidence for this inquiry in July and had planned to publish its report in the coming weeks. The forthcoming prorogation of Parliament has caused the Committee to change these plans. The Committee believes that the issues and concerns raised by the inquiry are too important to wait, and so it has decided to share the key findings of the report with the Government now.

Key findings

The Committee has written to the Home Secretary highlighting that:

  • The Government's failure to give evidence to the inquiry means that there is little to no up-to-date public information available on how it is working to ensure that vulnerable refugees and asylum seekers who have already experienced trauma do not face additional suffering as a result of Brexit.
  • The most significant implication of leaving the EU’s common asylum system would be the loss of a safe, legal route for the reunion of separated refugee families in Europe. In a 'no deal' scenario, the UK's sudden departure from this system could have a considerable humanitarian impact on separated refugee families and unaccompanied children, leaving them in legal limbo.
  • There is a clear shared interest in maintaining UK-EU asylum cooperation after Brexit. This relationship should have at its heart a shared agreement on, and commitment to uphold, minimum standards for refugee protection, asylum procedures, qualification, and reception conditions.
  • The future relationship should include a framework for the speedy resolution of refugee family reunion cases and a returns mechanism. This would help to achieve the UK objective of being able to send asylum seekers back to the first safe country they reached for their cases to be processed.
  • Bilateral cooperation with EU Member States like France and Belgium is also key to the effective management of UK borders. While the agreements underpinning these relationships are not formally EU-dependent, they have undoubtedly been easier to sustain under the shared umbrella of EU membership. A disruptive 'no deal' Brexit could place a particular strain on these relationships.

In December 2018, the Government published a White Paper setting out its vision for the post-Brexit UK immigration system—including asylum and refugee resettlement—and launched a year-long consultation on these proposals. In the context of this review, the Committee’s letter also includes a number of recommendations for the development of a more effective and humane UK asylum policy.

Further information

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