Conservatives have done more than ever before to tackle illegal migration and the criminality that goes with it, but we must do even more

I’m not someone who has ever shied away from saying what needs to be said.

That’s certainly the case when I talk about our right to strong borders and saying no to the virtue signallers who stop us from deporting people who should not be in our country.

The first duty of any Government is to keep its people safe, and deporting foreign criminals who should not be in our country is a vital function of that responsibility.

That’s why I secured Wednesday’s debate on the deportation of foreign national offenders to question Ministers on the work they are doing to deport these criminals to keep our streets and our country safe.

As a Conservative, I defend my right to tell the truth to the British people about the egregious abuse of our homes and communities that is facilitated by our asylum and immigration system, and in our courts and tribunals, in the name of kindness and virtue signalling.

It is not heartless and cruel or, bizarrely, ‘far right’, to believe that people who have lived all their lives in our country should have a say in how many more people come to it, to aver that the people who come to our country should respect our laws, traditions and culture, and finally, that if they do not, they should be sent back to where they came from.

The figures are shocking. According to the Crown Prosecution Service, the number of foreign national offenders subject to deportation action living in the community has risen year on year for the last decade, and has now reached nearly 12,000. That’s 12,000 criminals free to roam our streets while they exploit our legal system at taxpayers’ expense to stay here longer.

As this number has climbed over the last decade, the number of people we are returning to other countries has fallen. The number of total enforced returns has dropped from 15,134 in 2012 to 5,506 in the year ending September 2023.

Here are some hard truths. We must raise our eyes and stop thinking that the UK is uniquely afflicted with this problem and that our own government is the only one battling.

Around the world, numbers are spiralling. According to the UNHCR, at the end of 2022, 108.4 million people worldwide were displaced. This represents an increase of 19 million people wanting to leave their country compared to the end of 2021.

Of course many of these aspire to come to European nations including the UK. And we’ve done our part as we have always done throughout history.

It is a fact of human nature that not everybody is a good person. When numbers of immigrants rise, most will be good people, but proportionately more bad people will be among their number.

In this country we are open hearted, generous and tolerant to those who treat us with respect, and are willing to abide by our laws.

But we have seen examples of people we have welcomed to our homes who only wish to harm or kill us, our families and our communities.

The British people are not naive, they know that people of any nationality are capable of sinning, lying and evil. But they do not expect our country to be an offshore prison facility for criminals from all over the world.

They elect us to keep people safe in bed at night and on our streets by getting foreign criminals out of our country. Every sovereign nation has the right to control its borders.

Conservatives have done more than ever before to tackle the concerning rise in illegal migration and criminality that goes with it, to remove the merry go round of asylum claims, and bear down on abuse such as via spurious modern slavery claims. But a thicket of legal instruments, treaties and conventions still exists, giving grounds for foreign national offenders to escape deportation.

I know it’s difficult, but we must do more. That’s why I’m calling on the Government to urgently revisit the legal frameworks underpinning the exemptions on grounds of religion and faith.

It’s only Conservative values centred on our belief in a strong nation state that have any answers to this wicked problem. We are the only ones prepared to stand up and fight for our hard won peace, and who are making progress, difficult though it is, over the longer term to protect our democracy and our safety.

Rachel Maclean MP

Rachel Maclean is the Conservative MP for Redditch, and elected in 2017.