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According to a Mirror online report, recently released National Archives files shed light on Tony Blair’s exploration of stringent measures in response to a surge in asylum claims during his tenure. The documents, reflecting Blair’s frustration over the rising number of asylum applications, indicate a consideration of radical policies in October 2002.

Blair’s handwritten note in the documents suggests a need for “even more radical measures.” One of the striking proposals involved establishing a detention facility on the Isle of Mull in Scotland for asylum seekers facing deportation. Despite concerns about local opposition, Blair’s chief of staff, Jonathan Powell, recommended it as part of a “big bang solution” to send a shockwave through the system.

Other measures outlined in the files included designating “safe havens” in African countries and sending claimants to the Falkland Islands for processing. Blair, echoing current Home Secretary Suella Braverman’s controversial stance, expressed a willingness to override international law, stating, “We must not allow the [European Convention on Human Rights] to stop us dealing with it.”

While the proposed measures from 2003 were not implemented, the parallels with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s current plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda for assessment raise questions about the broader approach to the complex issue of asylum.

Opposition parties, including the Liberal Democrats and the Green Party, criticized Blair’s historical stance. Liberal Democrat Alistair Carmichael accused the Labour Party of sacrificing compassion for headlines, while Green Party co-leader Carla Denyer labeled the proposals as “callous and legally questionable.”

A spokesperson for Blair maintained that he focused on managing migration fairly within the legal framework. However, the documents reveal Blair’s frustration with refugee conventions and human rights laws, challenging claims of strict adherence to established legal obligations.

The revelations coincide with a time when Prime Minister Rishi Sunak faces criticism for advocating stringent asylum policies. The echoes between Blair’s proposals and the current government’s approach raise important questions about the historical roots and repeated patterns in Britain’s handling of the asylum issue.

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