Stephen believes in a firm but fair approach to immigration. The UK has a proud history of offering asylum to those in genuine need. Stephen believes that is it is extremely regrettable that this generosity is being abused by the people smugglers who promote economic migration to people in the developed world, and incentivise the abuse of our asylum system to fuel their trade and fill their pockets.
Stephen believes that the issues of asylum and economic migration should be kept distinct. This is why the UK remains committed to providing asylum for those in genuine need.
The truth is that there are no easy solution to the sensitive issue of immigration. Brexit has given us more potential control over our own immigration policy but it has also brought other challenges – for example, the weaker cross-Channel cooperation over the people traffickers. Stephen supports the Home Secretary in her efforts to make this route unviable and to focus efforts on this criminal activity.
At the end of November 2021, the Home Secretary secured an agreement with the French Minister of the Interior to increase France's operational response. It was encouraging that this resulted in France preventing twice as many crossings as the same period in 2020.
Stephen is clear that there is more to do given the increasing numbers attempting to cross the Channel illegally, partly as a result of the success in closing down other illegal routes.
Collaboration with France is clearly essential and, as Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on France, Stephen thinks there needs to be even closer joint-working with the French government to tackle illegal migration.