Johnson twitters while migrants drown in the Channel

How did it come this? Tens of migrants drowning in the Channel. There is a sense of inhumanity about current events. A sense of unreality. A sense that the horrors of humanity at its worst is lapping up on the shores of the Channel. Alive. But often dead.

There is a sense of unreality about our government’s response. And that of the French leadership.

This is people’s lives. People escaping the horrors of conflict and political suppression. People who want their children to go to school. People who want to set up thriving businesses. People who want to pay their way.

Instead, some of them drown. Their dreams of a better life destroyed by exploitation of modern day smugglers. Not smuggling contraband but smuggling people. There are many echoes of this from our colonial past but this a current emergency, not something you can look up in the index of a history book.

Boris Johnson and Priti Patel want to push migrants back to France. Johnson has never understood diplomacy and he showed that yesterday in his engagement with Macron publishing on twitter his letter to Macron.

Macron was furious. Priti Patel is reported to have been banned from a meeting this coming weekend with French politicians on the crisis.

Priti Patel – what can you say?  “English Channel Small Boats Incident” was the title of her debate in the House of Commons yesterday. “Incident” doesn’t do justice to the tragic incident. But that is Priti Patel.

The strain on public services in some counties, especially in Kent, is at breaking point.

We are a big country and with a history of absorbing migrants fleeing from persecution. We have a history of tolerance and welcoming of people who are not from our small island and are culturally different. We also have a contrary history of intolerance and racism.

I sit on the tolerant side of life. If people are fleeing in desperation, we should provide them with shelter along with the ways and means to build new lives.

* Andy Boddington is a Lib Dem councillor in Shropshire. He blogs at andybodders.co.uk. He is Thursday editor of Lib Dem Voice.

Read more by or more about , or .
This entry was posted in Op-eds.
Advert

25 Comments

  • I agree with Andy that the recent news of the deaths of more migrants crossing the channel is appalling. Basic humanity cries out for something to be done to prevent this kind of tragedy.

    But are we sure that simply admitting these people to the UK and providing them all with shelter and the means to build lives here is actually a genuine solution? Sure, in the short term, it seems like a humanitarian thing to do. But it also seems rather obvious that doing so, will inevitably attract many more people to put themselves in the same danger – because they will conclude that , if they do so, they’ll also be admitted. That will in turn generate more business for the people-smugglers and their cruel trade and ultimately cause more suffering. There are also questions about that, people are putting themselves in this kind of danger when they are already in a safe country (France), and that selectively helping the people who are trying to cross means that we end up helping those who have most demonstrated that they have the means to escape their countries and pay the people smugglers: Those are not necessarily the people who most desperately need our help. It’s very noticeable in that regard that – IIRC – something like 85% of migrants attempting to cross the channel are men, yet most of them appear to come from countries where women are at far greater risk of discrimination/persecution, and where you’d therefore expect the people most in need of our help to be mainly women.

    Like I say, I share the horror at what is happening, and the desire to do something to end this awful smuggling trade. I don’t really know what the full solution is, but I’m pretty sure it’s a lot more complicated than simply saying, in effect, let the ones who are already in France and crossing the channel all come in!

  • Nonconformistradical 26th Nov '21 - 9:51pm

    @Simon R
    “There are also questions about that, people are putting themselves in this kind of danger when they are already in a safe country (France)”

    from https://www.worlddata.info/europe/france/asylum.php
    “87,659 asylum applications by refugees were received in 2020 in France – according to UNHCR. Most of them came from Afghanistan, Guinea and from Bangladesh. A total of 79,746 decisions have been made on initial applications. Which were around 16% answered positively. 84 percent of asylum applications have been rejected in the first instance. Most successful have been the applications of refugees from Thailand and from Mauritius.”

    i.e. it isn’t as though France itself isn’t having to deal with a lot of migrants without the UK adding to its load by avoiding taking a share of those who happen to arrive at the channel coast wishing to come to the UK.

    If people have connections (relatives etc.) with the UK rather than France and perhaps already understand some English mightn’t it be easier for them to settle in the UK?

    Granted it would be much better if there were not millions of people trying to migrate to other countries where they might feel safer, be able to earn a living etc. But I don’t see that happening any time soon – I think there are only going to be more people migrating because of climate change (including fleeing conflict arising from failing resources).

  • Simon R 26th Nov ’21 – 8:47pm…

    Somewhat less than 3% of refugees/migrants arriving in Europe try to get to the UK; your post reminds me of the Daily Mail idea that the UK is the ‘promised Land’ for ALL those coming into Europe..
    As for reponsibility for the explosion in migration..There was a china shop in my village that had a sign reading ‘If you break it you own it’; the US and UK bear the brunt of the responsibilty for the destabilisation of the countries whose people make up the majority of those fleeing the chaos we left behind..To our credit we, as a party, opposed Blair’s Iraq/Afghanistan ‘adventure; but we supported the Libyan/Syria interventions.. BTW, when France refused to join the US/UK war in Iraq they were labelled ‘Cheese eating surrender monkeys’ in the ‘gung-ho’ jargon of the time..They, at least, might feel rather more aggrieved at being pilloried in the aftermath of a largely US/UK created crisis..
    However, we are where we are and, at least to me, it seems pointless to expect the French to take back those who have arrived in the UK and do not want to be in France; Macron’s offer requesting the UK to send immigration officers to France to process demands for asylum on French territory seems a far more logical proposal..Still that would not sit well with Johnson and his right wing media supporters who have still not forgiven France for Napoleon or even Castillon.. When in trouble at home blame foreigners; if the ‘foreigner’ in question is France so much the better..

  • Denis Loretto 27th Nov '21 - 12:01pm

    In contrast to the relative peace and prosperity in Europe since WW2, there is more and more conflict and economic misery in many other parts of the world. Attempted migration is inevitable and must be catered for but it is not feasible to stand back and and accept or even encourage mass movements of people from one country or continent to another. Much wider solutions must be sought which are in line with our common humanity. One sure thing is that only by close international co-operation can any amelioration let alone solution be found. Fuelled as it undoubtedly is by the consequences of brexit the continuing cross-channel accusations and counter-accusations are totally counter-productive. Is there no-one who can provide the kind of leadership the situation demands?

  • Helen Dudden 27th Nov '21 - 12:24pm

    France is a safe place, and so are other EU countries. Perhaps, if there were less camp like situations, and more of why is this happening?
    People smugglers are not doing this to be kind, there is often other reasons. The black economy is one.
    A fair days work for a fair days pay. We did have many Polish bus drivers willing to drive buses for £10 an hour.
    Perhaps the time is right, as we have an ITV programme, on the failings of some housing associations.
    The problems with our ambulance service and hospitals. Getting to see a GP, or NHS dentist is difficult. Many like myself are paying.
    I’m writing on the Mental Health of Children, that’s never been a strong issue for many.

  • john oundle 27th Nov '21 - 1:27pm

    Simon R

    Spot on.

  • Jason Connnor 27th Nov '21 - 6:13pm

    I agree with Simon R. And there is a difference between lawful and unlawful immigration. I remember a Lib Dem politician saying exactly that on QT, and her name – Jo Swinson.

  • Well done to President Macron for reading our Lib Dem policy on offering safe and legal routes to those seeking asylum in the U.K. His offer to allow U.K. Immigration officers to screen claims in northern France is a policy we have been championing for years and together with the use of humanitarian visas it would save many lives. Importantly President Macron is not alone in calling for off shore processing: Refugee Council, UNHCR , Refugee Action and a host of other NGOs including our own Liberal Democrats for Seekers of Sanctuary have all signed up to this sensible and life saving policy. Even Priti Patel is proposing off shore processing ! Sadly however her interpretation of off shore processing is very different from ours. It seems to involve the Home Office sending asylum seekers, who have already arrived here , overseas to whichever impoverished country will allow a U.K. immigration processing centre to be set up on its land. This is the out of sight , out of mind principle of course but it will not work.
    Far more workable and certainly more humane would be the use of humanitarian visas to allow safe and legal routes to this country for those whose screening interviews suggest a high likelihood of success in their asylum claim. Even the humanitarian visa is not a perfect solution because those whose application is refused will no doubt try to find an alternative route to the U.K.
    More immigration officers and decision makers would decrease the shockingly long waiting times for decisions to be made following the substantive interview . It is not unrealistic to suggest that the waiting is simply a mechanism for regulating the numbers being allowed to settle here annually.
    Whatever the reason for average waits of anything between 1-2 years and sometimes much longer this time in limbo causes real distress to people whose lives have been turned upside down by conflict already.
    Let us hope that the amendments to the Nationality and Borders Bill returning to Parliament on the 7th and 8th of December will succeed in saving lives.

  • Janet King

    ‘Well done to President Macron for reading our Lib Dem policy on offering safe and legal routes to those seeking asylum in the U.K. His offer to allow U.K. Immigration officers to screen claims in northern France is a policy we have been championing for years ‘

    You don’t think this would be a significant ‘pull’ factor for even more migrants?

    What then prevents those that get their applications rejected reverting to plan B & attempting to cross the channel in dinghies that we know are not seaworthy? .

  • Nonconformistradical 28th Nov '21 - 9:15am
  • @Martin: How does that article contradict @John Oundle’s point?

    @expats: Why should it matter if the Daily Mail (or anyone else for that matter) happens to agree with my points? To my mind, what matters is having a reasoned discussion and trying to figure out the best workable solution to an awful humanitarian crisis. It doesn’t really help that discussion if people respond by just shouting ‘Daily Mail‘ or something similar. If you don’t agree with something I’ve said, best to explain why you think what I say is incorrect.

  • I confess to not having any answers to this humanitarian crisis other than thinking diplomacy would go a long way to helping the situation, something that our PM has shown a distinct lack of over the years, among his other failings.

  • Simon R 28th Nov ’21 – 10:35am………[email protected]: Why should it matter if the Daily Mail (or anyone else for that matter) happens to agree with my points? To my mind, what matters is having a reasoned discussion and trying to figure out the best workable solution to an awful humanitarian crisis. It doesn’t really help that discussion if people respond by just shouting ‘Daily Mail‘ or something similar. If you don’t agree with something I’ve said, best to explain why you think what I say is incorrect…………..

    Simon, My first paragraph mentioned the DM because their agenda (popular with the Johnson/Patel mindset) seems to follow yours; albeit in rather more forthright language.. My post went on to offer alternatives…
    Perhaps you might consider the fact that even promised programmes, like the unaccompanied child resettlement promise of 3,000 places which was quietly downgraded to 350 (in fact only 20 were processed in the first two years of the scheme)..The Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme (ACRS), has not even started…Families of those Afghans already in the UK are among those using ‘illegal’ routes in sheer desperation..
    This morning, on SkyNews, Sajid Javid stated that last year the UK accepted more applications from refugees than any EU country (a barefaced lie that wasn’t called out by the interviewer)..The UK is not even ‘in the frame’; in 2020 the EU countries leading the process are ..
    Germany (102,500)
    Spain (86,400)
    France (81,700)
    Greece (37,900)

    As for the impression given in the mainly right wing media that we are being ‘overrun’ the Uk has only the 17th largest intake when measured per head of population.. leaders being;
    Cyprus (841 per 100,000 inhabitants)
    Malta (468)
    Greece (354).

    In short, the UK doesn’t have an immigrant crisis and so sticking to our refugee promises and opening wider legal means of applications are far more likely to reduce the number of new ‘boat-people’ than the draconian actions proposed by Patel, et al..

  • Charles Smith 28th Nov '21 - 1:25pm

    The deaths of at least 27 people in the English Channel is fuelling tensions between the U.K. and France over how to stop migrants from crossing the world’s busiest waterway in small boats.

    Despite a pledge from British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and French President Emmanuel Macron that they would “do everything possible” to stop people smugglers from endangering lives, politicians on both sides of the channel are already sniping at their counterparts for failing to prevent Wednesday’s tragedy.

    U.K. officials criticize France for rejecting their offer of British police and border officers to conduct joint patrols along the channel coast with French police. French authorities say Britain is stoking the crisis because it is too easy for migrants to remain in the country and work if they manage to cross the channel.
    https://worldabcnews.com/u-k-france-tensions-rise-over-deaths-of-at-least-27-migrants-in-channel/

  • “French authorities say Britain is stoking the crisis because it is too easy for migrants to remain in the country and work if they manage to cross the channel.!

    Indeed. One of their main criticisms of the UK is that we don’t have a compulsory ID card system and that unlike in most of continental Europe we don’t have to register with the police. What is the LibDem position on these policies?

  • Matt Wardman 2nd Dec '21 - 6:38am

    @Adam

    The data is that France has a far larger shadow economy than the UK (like 25% larger as a proportion), which somewhat gives the lie to Gerald Darmanin’s claim that people want to come here as it is easier to vanish in the UK.

    That statement from Mons. is perhaps just the latest entry in the French Posturing politician 2021 competition.

  • Nonconformistradical 2nd Dec '21 - 8:09am

    @Matt Wardman
    “The data is that France has a far larger shadow economy than the UK (like 25% larger as a proportion)..”
    Could you provide a link to the data please?

    And if true it doesn’t exactly back up the idea of compulsory id cards being a magic solution to problems around shadow economies and migration.

  • Matt Wardman 2nd Dec '21 - 9:28am

    @Noncomformist

    Sure, Here is a report from the IMF with data from around 2000-2019.

    Table 2.1.3 covers 2014-1019. France runs around 14.5-15%. UK around 12.5%.

    (I’ll concede that that is 20% different not my estimate of 25%.)

    https://www.elibrary.imf.org/view/books/071/29292-9781513575919-en/ch003.xml

    Numbers from other sources are fairly similar over the longer term.

    We do not have reliable stats yet for post-Brexit post-pandemic of course.

    I concur partly with your second point on ID cards, though I’m fairly relaxed about them myself. I think perhaps the obvious thing that they may have helped prevent would be the right to citizenship of the Windrush Generation people, as we would have better records – rather than relying on a pile of paperwork that was thrown away..

  • Those figures on the shadow economy don’t actually disprove Gerald Darmanin’s claim. Remember that there are many factors that will impact how big a country’s shadow economy is – as is made clear in the article @Matt Wardman has linked to. Also, the shadow economy doesn’t only refer to illegal immigrants – it may include people who are allowed to work but choose to work ‘informally’ in order to avoid taxes etc. Compared to the UK, I believe France tends to have a slower/more onerous bureaucratic framework – that will obviously drive a larger shadow economy. Also, being in the Schengen zone and having numerous long land borders will make it harder for France to control illegal working. For all those reasons, it’s perfectly possible that the two the statements, that it’s easier to disappear in the UK, and that France has a larger shadow economy, might both be simultaneously true.

  • Nonconformistradical 2nd Dec '21 - 1:53pm

    @Simon R
    ” Compared to the UK, I believe France tends to have a slower/more onerous bureaucratic framework ”
    You believe? do you have actual evidence – please?

  • @Nonconformistradical: There’s obviously some subjectivity in saying that one country is more bureaucratic than another, but there does seem to be some consensus in online articles that bureaucracy is a big problem in France. Take this Guardian article for example. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/apr/30/government-rules-hinder-france-growth. I’m also going a bit from anecdotal observations from friends. A bit more concrete – business tax rates appear to be higher in France – Corporation tax has been 28% for a couple of years, against 19% in the UK. It goes without saying that people shouldn’t evade the tax by doing business in the shadow economy, but clearly, the higher corporation tax is, the more likely people are to do so.

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

*
*
Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?

Advert



Recent Comments

  • Joe Bourke
    Martin Gray, I imagine any Russian president will not be overjoyed by Sweden and Finland applying for Nato membership. The question is should the Russian Pre...
  • Alison Willott
    Caron, I haven't got your email address but just wanted to say how very much you are appreciated for everything you do, and I'm so sorry for what you are going ...
  • Martin Gray
    Ukrainian membership of NATO would be an absolute bitter pill to swallow for any Russian president - despot or not .... The flouting of that idea by Western po...
  • Phillip Bennion
    I thank Russell for his comments. RT propaganda has pervaded widely into global media and social media sites. We should remember that Ukraine was being rebuffed...
  • Russell
    Steve's query on Euromaidan is interesting. It would be easy to dismiss people like Steve as merely Putin's useful idiots. There is a propaganda war going on as...