Rishi Sunak gave a speech in which he set out his plan to reduce illegal immigration.
Maybe you thought it contained some good ideas; on the face of it, it might have.
But it only attempts to handle the symptoms of the problem, and not the causes.
And This Writer fears that some of the measures he introduced may be used to persecute the innocent.
Also, there was something Nurembergian about his delivery – the “enough is enough” rhetoric and the assertion that he would “do what must be done”.
It reminded me of other characters from history and fiction – so I made a video comparison (in this case with a character from fiction).
Do I make a good point?
(For clarity, the clip I’m using is for commentary/satirical purposes and I would not wish to make any attempt to claim ownership.)
The measures announced by Sunak include:
- a dedicated unit of 400 specialists to handle claims from Albanians
- new guidance for asylum case workers making it clear Albania is a safe country and requiring evidence of modern slavery when considering a claim
- UK border officials will also be posted at Albania’s main airport, under a new deal with the country
- 700 staff for a new unit to monitor small boats crossing the English Channel
- a pledge to end the use of hotels for asylum seekers
- plans to house 10,000 individuals waiting on claims in disused holiday parks, former student halls, and surplus military sites
- a commitment to double the number of asylum caseworkers, who assess claims
- more staff and funding for the National Crime Agency to tackle organised immigration crime in Europe
- plans for Parliament to set an annual quota for refugees coming to the UK
- new laws, to be introduced next year, to “make unambiguously clear that if you enter the UK illegally, you should not be able to remain here”
Refugee charities branded the plans “cruel” and “ineffective”.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer dismissed the proposals as “unworkable gimmicks”.
Sunak also pledged to “significantly raise the threshold someone has to meet” to be considered a victim of modern slavery.
But former Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May warned modern slavery was “a very real and current threat”.
She urged Sunak not to “diminish our world-leading protections for the victims of this terrible, horrific crime”.
(He didn’t listen.)
And there are other problems:
The UN’s refugee agency welcomed measures to address the asylum backlog but said plans to limit access to asylum to those arriving through “safe, legal routes” went against the principles of the 1951 Refugee Convention.
The UNHCR said the announcements marked “a troubling step away” from the UK’s “commendable humanitarian tradition”.
Tim Naor Hilton, chief executive of charity Refugee Action, criticised the government for failing to commit to creating new safe routes for people to come to the UK, which he said “could end most small boat crossings overnight”.
“Most of these changes are cruel, ineffective and unlawful and will do nothing to fix the real problems in the system,” he said.
The Refugee Council said treating people “who come to the UK in search of safety as illegal criminals” was “deeply disturbing and flies in the face of international law”.
The charity said it was “very simplistic” to label Albania safe “when in reality it has serious problems with criminal and sexual exploitation of women and children”.
It’s another Tory mess.
They could have done something useful but they decided not to – possibly because raising hysteria around immigration allows them to distract public attention away from all their other disasters.
And, considering the effect his plan is likely to have on people who are genuinely trying to flee life-threatening situations, he might just as well have pointed a giant cannon at them and shouted “fire!”
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