STEPHEN GLOVER: If the Conservatives don’t tackle immigration, a crisis will turn into a disaster
Does Boris Johnson care about the growing number of migrants who risk their lives crossing the Channel – and put enormous pressure on our struggling social services if they are successful?
Almost six times more migrants made the crossing last month than in October 2020.
A total of 2,669 migrants made the trip in small boats despite the bad weather. Some 1,185 completed it on a single day a week ago and over 1,000 on Tuesday.
Three migrants perished this month trying to cross the Channel.
In the end, around 300 people have died over the past two decades, most of them in the hands of unscrupulous “traffickers”.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson pictured leaving Downing Street on Wednesday amid increasing numbers of migrants arriving in the UK via the English Channel
Home Secretary Priti Patel called asylum system “dysfunctional” on Tuesday following terror attack at Liverpool hospital
Meanwhile, the case of Emad Al Swealmeen, who died on Sunday when his bomb exploded outside a Liverpool hospital, highlights the problem of failed asylum seekers who can pose a threat to the public.
He had lost his request to stay in Britain but was still here.
Priti Patel, who has been Minister of the Interior for two years and four months, on Tuesday called the asylum system “dysfunctional” as if it had nothing to do with it.
She blames “the entire professional legal services industry” for what she describes as “a complete merry-go-round.”
She might also have mentioned the Church of England, which apparently converted hundreds of Muslim asylum seekers to Christianity.
It seems that embracing Christianity greatly increases the chances of a migrant being granted asylum – and decreases the likelihood of being returned to an Islamic country.
Not that the chances of that happening are very great. In 2012, 12,552 failed asylum seekers were returned to their country of origin.
Last year the number had fallen to just 1,484.
If you are crossing the English Channel, you will probably be able to stay, even if you are supposed to leave.
Can anyone doubt that this is a serious crisis, which is almost doomed to worsen as more and more people travel the 21 kilometers between Britain and France?
Of course, one could consider that anyone who wants to come to this country under the guise of being a refugee should be welcomed with open arms.
Emad Al-Swealmeen, 32, was identified as the man responsible for a terrorist attack outside the main entrance to a Liverpool hospital just before 11 a.m. on Sunday
This is the point of view of the Refugee Council, which seeks to work on behalf of refugees.
The BBC reported bluntly yesterday morning that the Refugee Council disputed Priti Patel’s recent claim that 70% of arrivals are “economic migrants”.
This rejection was quoted as if it were from Holy Scripture. The Refugee Council was clearly right, and Ms Patel and the Home Office were clearly wrong.
But the Refugee Council’s “research” was little more than a claim.
Enver Solomon, its managing director, says: “The reality is that people who come to the UK on terrifying journeys in small boats across the Channel do so because they are desperate for safety after fleeing persecution. , terror and oppression “.
He is only partly right. In any case, these people should not try to force their entry into the UK.
By the way, the last time I looked, France – where these people have the right to stay – was not a center of persecution, terror and oppression.
We cannot blame this particular accusation on President Emmanuel Macron.
No, I believe most Brits, while sympathetic to real refugees and aware of our human obligations to them, don’t think of the Refugee Council (and apparently the BBC) as pretty much anyone who shows up on the English coast. should have an automatic right of residence.
I also suggest that there are many like me who are bewildered by the government’s reluctance or failure to establish control over our borders, which in my naivety I had thought was one of the main goals. of Brexit.
Indeed, according to a substantial poll of 12,369 voters on June 23, 2016 (the day of the referendum), a third was classified by taking back “the control of immigration and [the UK’s] borders ”as the main reason for voting to leave the EU.
Even some Remnants were in favor of immigration control.
As recently as 2019, an in-depth survey found that 39% of the population believed the level of immigration was fair, while 44% wanted it reduced further.
Another poll carried out the same year – when the number of people crossing the Channel was much lower than today and the crisis was less acute – found that almost half of those polled had little or no sympathy for asylum seekers entering the UK via this route, with only 19% having ‘a lot of sympathy’.
Migrants arriving in Kent earlier this week via a boat across the English Channel
If Boris Johnson and Priti Patel decided to keep their sacred Brexit promise to control our borders and work to stem the tide of asylum seekers, they would almost certainly enjoy overwhelming popular support.
The BBC, which largely ignores the influx, or sides with the Refugee Council, does not reflect public opinion.
Why does the government not have a grip? No one should question Priti Patel’s desire to act. The problem is, by speaking harshly, she goes from one robust, if not tough, policy to another without ever achieving much.
In January 2020, she threatened to return anyone smuggled in by gangs directly to where they came from.
So far, no migrant has been returned to France. Of the more than 23,000 migrants who arrived here by boat this year, only five have been returned to Europe.
In May 2020, the fire-breathing Home Secretary vowed to turn back migrant boats to France even if they were in British waters.
No agreement has been reached with Paris. Last June, British border force ships were forced on entering French waters to help bring a migrant boat to Dover.
French President Emmanuel Macron. No agreement has been reached with Paris on the return of migrants
It is true that the Nationality and Borders Bill is making its way through Parliament.
It contains sensible measures, such as tougher penalties for smugglers, but few believe that will change much.
Clearly, the bill lacks a provision to create an immigration processing center abroad for asylum seekers.
Last July, the Interior Ministry launched the idea of setting up such a system, possibly in collaboration with Denmark in a country like Rwanda, but the practical and legal objections are considered almost insurmountable.
What is certain is that relying on France to downsize is a futile exercise. Although they have been handed tens of millions of pounds by the government, the French authorities cannot, or will not, make much of a difference.
The UK government clearly faces a formidable challenge. I have no idea whether, with her penchant for threats that she does not carry out, Priti Patel is the best minister to lead. Even if she is, she needs more support from the Prime Minister.
Which brings me back to my question: Does Boris really care?
Four days after the EU referendum, he wrote a column in the Daily Telegraph in which he doubted that “those who voted for the leave were primarily motivated by concerns about immigration”.
But a lot of people care, especially Brexit supporters and Conservative voters, especially those on the ‘Red Wall’.
Boris Johnson would do well to take a crisis that could turn into disaster much more seriously.