Protest planned against Wellingborough MP’s ‘inhumane’ asylum seeker bill

Peter Bone wants to 'turn the boats back'

By Natalie Bloomer

Protesters will gather outside the office of Peter Bone on Friday over a private member’s bill introduced to parliament by the Wellingborough MP.

The bill calls for asylum seekers arriving in the United Kingdom from a safe country to be immediately returned to that place.

Bone recently tweeted a video clip of him discussing the bill in parliament. The tweet simply read ‘Turn the boats back’. 

He told the Commons:

“It is evil, wrong and unacceptable that people are being trafficked across the English Channel for the purpose of making huge sums of money for evil gangs. And perceived with the help of the French government. The home secretary is totally right to introduce legislation to turn those boats back because that’s the only way we are going to end this trade.

“I have a serious suggestion, I have a private member’s bill that does exactly that. I would undertake to change the wording of the bill to what would be acceptable to the government. I think it would be a very speedy way of moving this matter forward.”

Home secretary Priti Patel wants to establish a legal basis for returning boats crossing the channel without breaching maritime law. However, France has hit back at the plans with the country’s interior minister Gerald Darmanin saying they “will not accept any practice contrary to the law of the sea”.

Bone’s bill received its first reading in parliament in June with the second reading expected last week, however that has now been postponed until October.

The purpose of a private member’s bill is to change the law but it is put forward by an MP not a government minister. It is very unusual for them to proceed through all of the stages necessary to become law but they are often used as a way to create publicity around an issue. 

“This is complete political posturing from Peter Bone, this bill won’t pass and he knows it,” Paul Crofts, who is arranging the protest, said. 

“It’s a duty in maritime law to rescue people at sea, this is just unbelievable and inhumane from Bone, I don’t understand why he feels the need to interfere with this issue, it’s not as if Northamptonshire borders the North Sea.”

In recent weeks Northamptonshire has agreed to welcome Afghan refugees as part of the government’s resettlement scheme. The West has said it will take more than 200 people and the North says it will take 10 families. NN Journal has previously tried to establish why the numbers are so different but the explanations given have not been clear. 

Bone, whose seat is in the North of the county, recently told the Commons he received an email claiming to be from family members of people needing to flee Afghanistan and asking for his help. However, he says the next day he had another email from the person saying that what they told him was not true and the people were actually members of the Taliban trying to get into the UK. 

“I was shocked,” he told NN Journal

“I raised this with the prime minister and in his response he implied that all the checks being done in Kabul should prevent that from being able to happen.”

NN Journal went on to ask him about the huge difference in the number of Afghan refugees being accepted in the North compared to the West. He said it was misleading of us to suggest there had been different approaches from the councils and he then terminated the call. 

Bone’s live-in partner Helen Harrison is the executive member for Adults, Health and Wellbeing at North Northants Council.