Priti Patel said on Sunday that she plans to introduce the biggest overhaul UK's immigration policy in decades, pledging to "take every necessary step to fix this broken system”.
While speaking at the Conservative Party's annual conference, the home secretary said she would bring “forward legislation to deliver on that commitment next year”.
"Our broken system is enabling this international criminal trade. It is disregarding the most vulnerable, elbowing women and children in need to the side", she said, amid a wave of Channel crossings by migrants during the summer.
“Trampling over the weak. That cannot be right. All while the criminal gangs laugh in the face of the British people".
“Well, I will not be complicit in that", she added.
Mrs Patel said she “will introduce a new system that is firm and fair” and “We believe everyone should play by the same rules".
“And those values underpin our approach when it comes to immigration".
“We made the British public a promise that this Conservative government would end free movement. And we will".
Saying that “illegal migration is - and has always been - a complex issue” that has "plagued many Home Secretaries, many political parties and many governments”, acknowledging that it "would take time” to repair.
"If the solution to stop this was simple and straightforward, then believe me, this issue would have been resolved by now”, she added.
Addressing critics, the government minister took said that the opposition Labour Party claim that that "lives will be lost. But lives are already being lost".
“So do not let them peddle a false narrative that Conservatives do not have a proud history of providing a safe haven to those most in need".
She hit out at those "defending the broken system - the traffickers, the do gooders, the leftie lawyers, the Labour Party – they are defending the indefensible. And that is something I will never do".
“If at times it means being unpopular on Twitter. I will bear it. If at times it means Tony Blair’s spin doctor mocking my accent. So be it", she said.
“And if at times it means Labour Members of Parliament attempting to silence me because I do not conform to their idea of what an ethnic minority woman should stand for. I will stomach it".
She said that as Conservatives, "we do not measure the depth of our compassion in two hundred and eighty characters on Twitter, but in the actions we take and the choices we make".
Our broken asylum system is enabling an international criminal trade to disregard the most vulnerable - elbowing women & children in need to the side.— Priti Patel (@pritipatel) October 4, 2020
I will not be complicit in that.
I will introduce a new system that is firm & fair - the biggest overhaul in decades. pic.twitter.com/9cEJn9Atft
The Home Secretary has been the subject of criticism for looking into using disused ferries off the UK coast, to house asylum seekers as they await their cases to be concluded, or forcing boats to return to French waters using wave generating technology.
Her address follows the announcement of a government plan to establish an Australian-style system for relocating migrants off the British mainland - namely on the Ascension Island in the South Atlantic.