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UK Government Faces Strong Pushback Over Illegal Migration Bill

Protests, criticisms and concerns have been raised in the wake of the UK government’s new illegal migration bill.

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Home Secretary and Prime Minister Under Fire

There has been vocal backlash and pushback on the Conservative government’s illegal migration bill, which aims to prevent people who arrive in the UK on small boats from being able to claim asylum.

Among these was a Labour-led amendment in the House of Commons to block the bill, which was ultimately defeated by 249 votes to 312. The illegal migration bill is now set to pass onto its second reading.

While no Conservative MPs voted against the bill, a small group of ministers critical of the bill, including former prime minister Theresa May, did not lodge a vote.

A range of prominent politicians, human rights advocates and public figures have condemned the bill, variously deeming it to be “immoral”, “dehumanising” and “hateful”.

Protests and Condemnations

Monday saw a crowd of hundreds gather in Parliament Square to voice their disapproval over the new bill, with many holding placards with statements such as “Migrants make our NHS” and “Stop the scapegoating”.

Labour MP for Nottingham East, Nadia Whittome, addressed the protesters, saying “We’ve got to tell those Tory MPs sitting in the chamber of the House of Commons right now to stop the dehumanising, denigrating, disgusting rhetoric that they use to talk about refugees. People arriving on our shores, they’re not an invasion, they’re not queue jumpers, they’re not criminals, they’re not illegal. They’re people just like you and me.”

Other critics of the bill have included the Archbishop of York and leaders of organisation such as the Public Law Project, the Refugee Council, and Care4Calais. In addition, over 300 academic experts in migration have signed a joint letter to the government opposing the bill.

Gary Lineker and the BBC

Perhaps the most high-profile case of criticism against the government regarding the bill, however, has been Gary Lineker’s tweets and the BBC’s involvement.

Lineker and his usual co-presenters on football programme Match of the Day were absent from last weekend’s airing, after a highly publicised disagreement over Lineker allegedly broached BBC impartiality guidelines. Lineker was initially suspended from the show, with his co-presenters boycotting the show in a display of solidarity.

Lineker’s tweets in response to the government’s bill stated that the government’s language in the policy was “not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the 30s”.

Although Lineker has now been reinstated on the show, his suspension and further discussions around the bill itself continue to be a contentious issue among those concerned about the bill’s legality and its divisive nature.

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