Alternative policies for the UK’s asylum system

Think tank: Bright Blue

Author(s): Mikhail Korneev; Eve Redmond; Cosima Zaveta; Thomas Nurcombe

September 7, 2023

This report from UK think tank Bright Blue looks at UK public attitudes towards the principles and policies of the asylum system.

This Bright Blue report analyses UK public attitudes towards the principles and policies of the asylum system in the UK. The findings provide a strong case to – and policy advice for – this Conservative Government for reforming the asylum system. Our research reveals that the UK public wants a mixture of control and compassion in the management of the asylum system.

The public particularly prioritises due process, preferring asylum seekers to have their claims heard first before they are detained or deported. Younger people, those on higher incomes, those from London and 2019 Labour and Liberal Democrat voters tend to favour principles and policies that are more sympathetic towards and supportive of asylum seekers who arrive irregularly. In contrast, older respondent, those on lower household incomes and 2019 Conservative voters are more likely to prefer principles and policies that are more sceptical towards and stricter on asylum seekers who arrived irregularly.

Based on our findings, Bright Blue proposed four policies that the Government should introduce: 1. The UK Government should commit to an annual quota for the number of refugees under the UNHCR resettlement schemes, subject to official review each year, and numbers proportionate to the fragility of certain countries. 2. The UK Government should introduce a new humanitarian visa. 3. The Rwanda asylum agreement should be amended rather than abolished, and the UK Government should arrange for the removals of migrants to Rwanda only when they have had their asylum claims heard and refused and are failing to leave the UK voluntarily. 4. The UK Government should reinstate for a long trial period the two-tier system that existed between April 2022 and June 2023, enabling and promoting differential treatment of refugees who arrived via legal routes and those who arrived irregularly.