Interior Minister Priti Patel says he will carry out the “biggest overhaul” of the UK asylum system in “decades”.
Ms. Patel told the Conservative Party conference that the system was “fundamentally broken” and promised one that was “firm and fair”.
The system will include accelerating the removal of those “who are not entitled to protection,” he said.
This week it emerged that the UK has been considering sending asylum seekers to an island in the Atlantic.
Ms Patel said next year she will introduce legislation to change the system, but said it “will take time” and in the meantime “accelerate the UK’s operational response” to the problem.
Nick Thomas-Symonds, Labor’s shadow home secretary, said Ms. Patel’s comments were “further proof of how lacking in compassion and competence the Tories are.”
Prior to his speech at the conference, he said: “The British people will see through the interior minister’s shameless comments about a ‘broken system’ when the system has been overseen by the Tories for a decade.”
Ms Patel pledged to introduce a new asylum system that welcomes people through “safe and legal routes” and prevents those who arrive illegally from “making endless legal claims to stay”.
He added: “After decades of inactivity by successive governments, we will address the moral, legal and practical problems of this broken system. Because what exists now is neither firm nor fair.”
The home secretary said she would introduce legislation to deliver on her commitment, in what she said would be “the biggest overhaul of our asylum system in decades.”
The promised review follows the record number of people who embarked on the journey across the Channel to the UK in September, which Mrs Patel promised to stop.
According to Refugee Action, 35,566 asylum applications were filed in the UK in 2019, down from a peak of 84,000 in 2002.
At the same time, delays in processing UK asylum applications have increased significantly.
Four out of five applicants in the last three months of 2019 waited six months or more for their cases to be processed.
Mrs Patel said the UK would do more “immediate returns” of illegally arrived people “and break our rules, every single week”.
It came after it emerged this week that the government had been considering building an asylum-seeker treatment center in a remote UK territory in the Atlantic Ocean.
Ms. Patel asked officials to look into asylum policies that had been successful in other countries, the BBC was told.
Labor claimed the “ridiculous idea” was “inhumane, completely impractical and incredibly expensive”.
During his speech, the interior minister said the government “will explore all practical measures and options to discourage illegal immigration”.
He added: “A reformed system will prosecute the criminals and protect the vulnerable. This is what a firm and fair system should be like.”
Meanwhile, Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg wrote to his cabinet colleagues calling for “bold and ambitious” bills for the Queen’s next speech, Downing Street said.
Number 10 said he wanted to look “beyond” the Covid-19 pandemic and said the prime minister “would not be blown away” by fulfilling his manifesto commitments.
In his letter, Rees-Mogg said it would be “important to be ready to take advantage of opportunities” after the end of the transition period with the European Union on 31 December.
Priorities for Prime Minister Boris Johnson include fighting crime, controlling UK borders, investing in infrastructure and strengthening public services, Rees-Mogg said.
A spokesperson for the number 10 said: “The prime minister has made it clear that we will not be blown away by our plans to rebuild better and that is exactly what our next Queen’s speech will do.”