Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said anyone arriving illegally would be barred from entering the UK ahead of the enactment of new legislation scheduled for next week.
Under pressure from his own lawmakers to find a solution to the flow of migrants arriving in Britain through the Channel from Europe, Sunak has made stopping the boats one of his five key priorities.
“Make no mistake, if you come here illegally, you won’t be able to stay,” Sunak said in an interview with the Mail on Sunday newspaper.
The newspaper reported that a new law will be introduced Tuesday to address the problem, after more than 45,000 people made the dangerous crossing last year.
Last year, former Prime Minister Boris Johnson struck a deal to send tens of thousands of migrants, many of them from Afghanistan, Syria or other war-torn countries, to Rwanda, more than 6,400 kilometers away.
The politician has faced a legal battle after the first planned deportation flight was blocked by a last-minute injunction granted by the European Court of Human Rights.
In December, London’s High Court ruled the measure was legal, but opponents are trying to appeal the verdict.
Asked on Sky News whether asylum would be banned from arriving in Britain illegally, government minister Chris Heaton-Harris replied: “I think so.”
“If people come to this country illegally, they will be returned or sent somewhere like Rwanda.”
Asked how genuine asylum seekers might seek refuge, Heaton-Harris said: “I’m pretty sure there will be safer, more legal routes.”