Extinction Rebellion block entrance to Home Office over Bill

Activists are calling on the UK Government to 'end its hostile environment policy towards migrants'.

Extinction Rebellion block entrance to Home Office over Bill STV News
Protest: Extinction Rebellion activists lock themselves to Home Office gates.

Extinction Rebellion protesters have blocked the entrance to the Home Office in Glasgow.

Around 7am on Monday, activists locked themselves to each other and to the property’s gates with banners stating ‘refugees welcome’ and ‘climate justice = migrant justice’.

The protesters, from Extinction Rebellion Scotland and Extinction Rebellion Glasgow, are calling on the UK Government “to end its hostile environment policy towards migrants”.

Organisers said the demonstration is in response to Home Secretary Priti Patel’s Nationality and Borders Bill passing through the House Of Commons.

The bill came after 27 people lost their lives trying to cross the English Channel in November – a journey which has resulted in 166 people being recorded as either dead or missing since 2014.

Patel’s letter – which cleared the Commons last week – seeks to curb these crossings and also change how asylum claims are processed.

Protestors chained themselves to the fence around 7am on Monday. STV News
Protestors chained themselves to the fence around 7am on Monday.

A spokesperson for XR Scotland said: “The Nationality and Borders Bill must be stopped.

“It’s beyond cruel to criminalise people seeking asylum.

“It’s state-sanctioned murder to grant immunity to border force staff if refugees die after being pushed back into French waters.”

The demonstration comes after multiple equalities organisations rallied together in a mass protest against the Bill on Sunday in London outside 10 Downing Street.

A 67-year-old retired social worker who took part in the protest said: “The UK’s heartless hostile environment policy routinely denies migrants their human rights, preventing access to employment, healthcare, housing and other basic services.

“The world’s richest 10% are responsible for half of global emissions compared with the poorest half emitting only 10%, yet it will be the communities least responsible that are forced to flee their homes on a scale never seen before as the climate crisis escalates.

“The hostile environment must end, there can be no climate justice without migrant justice.”

Ministers in Scotland and Wales jointly condemned measures in the UK Government’s Nationality and Borders Bill as “barbaric” last week – as well as warning the legislation may need approval from the parliaments in Edinburgh and Cardiff.

Scottish Social Justice Secretary Shona Robison and Welsh counterpart Jane Hutt wrote a joint letter to the Home Secretary to demand the UK reconsiders its “hostile environment strategy” and develops “sufficient safe and legal routes” for asylum seekers.

Both the Scottish and Welsh governments have “far-reaching concerns about the impact of the provisions” in the Bill, Patel was told.

Robison and Hutt stated: “This legislation contains measures that will prevent migrants crossing the English Channel in small boats, including the barbaric suggestions for ‘push-back’ exercises involving enforcement officials seeking to repel small boats.

“Rather than help matters, these measures will delay rescues and endanger lives.”

In response to the protest, a UK Government spokesperson said: “As part of our New Plan for Immigration, we are establishing safe and legal routes to enable the most vulnerable people to start a new life in safety in the UK.

“People should not make life-threatening journeys to the UK and should claim asylum in the first safe country they reach. We are changing the law so those who facilitate dangerous crossings can face life behind bars.”