Priti Patel’s new asylum strategy – wrong in every sense

The announcement that the Home Secretary has finalised an “economic development and migration agreement” with Rwanda, whilst not necessarily a surprise, is a reminder that Government policy is now to make the seeking of asylum in the United Kingdom as difficult and unpleasant as possible, regardless of the cost.

The idea is that asylum seekers will be initially processed at a base in the United Kingdom, before being flown to Rwanda and “warehoused” there whilst their application is considered. That is, perhaps not everybody, as The Times is suggesting that only male asylum seekers would be sent. But the devil is not in the details.

There is a precedent for such treatment – the Australian Government took a similar approach, offshoring asylum processing to Nauru and Christmas Island. It was a disaster, with horror stories of abuse, suicide and, at the end of it all, most applicants were approved. The cost? £5,277… per day.

So, such a proposal doesn’t make financial sense. But it would be lazy to simply throw one’s hands up at the cost, we also need to look at the other impacts.

We already know that the Home Office isn’t fit for purpose. There were, in August, more than 70,000 asylum applications awaiting a decision and, unless someone is going to do something to address both staffing levels and a culture which appears hostile to foreigners, that isn’t going to change soon. That implies that, potentially, many thousands of people are going to end up in camps both far away from home and from the place they hope to be safe in. They’re also going to be there for some time, given that you would hardly fly someone five thousand miles if you think that their application is going to be quick to decide.

And, applicants have the right to appeal if their initial application is refused. Are they going to be able to do so in person, and are they going to have access to legal support? Given that, according to Asylum Justice, a Welsh group which supports asylum seekers, 37% of appeals are successful (Asylum Justice’s legal team were achieving a 70% success rate as of 2019), that’s far from a negligible prospect. The Shamima Begum case demonstrated how the courts perceive the rights of applicants to a fair hearing, and it seems unlikely that the Home Office would do much to support asylum seekers and their advisors in their efforts to gather evidence to help them make their case.

Whilst asylum seekers are in Rwanda, under whose supervision will they be? It would be naive to suggest that they are well cared for on British soil – there have been too many scandals for anyone to believe that – at least wrongdoing can be held accountable and judged. Under whose jurisdiction will these camps be, who would monitor them to ensure decent treatment for those held?

And, if an applicant is rejected, what happens to them? Will they be returned to their country of origin or just turned loose to make their own way? Without documents, and some asylum seekers either don’t have any or are forced to part with them en route, what do they do?

And, as David Davis noted, if we really wanted to address the question of onshore processing of asylum seekers, the easiest way to do so would be to introduce legal routes to seek asylum en route. As he put it;

Creating new legal and safe routes would be a constructive rather than destructive deterrent. It would give people a chance to make their case and to think again about crossing the Channel. It would send the message that Britain is firm and fair, realistic and compassionate.

This is an ill-thought out, potentially cruel and morally bankrupt way in which to reduce our obligations to the most desperate people. But then, this is hardly a Government with a credit in its moral bank account…

* Mark Valladares is the Monday Day Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and a member of the Party’s Federal International Relations Committee.

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70 Comments

  • Shameful dog whistle politics by a desperate Prime Minister with his back to the wall……. And involving a country with a shameful human rights record.

    Says everything you need to know about Johnson.

  • Roger Billins 14th Apr '22 - 1:52pm

    Shameful that this abhorrent policy was announced on Maundy Thursday at the beginning of the Christian festival of Easter. The Good Samaritan didn’t say to the stranger he met in the street “piss off to Rwanda-they”ll sort you out”.

  • Barry Lofty 14th Apr '22 - 2:03pm

    I could not agree more with the previous two responses, just how much lower can this government sink in the treatment of fellow human beings?

  • Getting “Partygate” off the front pages means more to the government than an Easter ceremony celebrating helping the poor or human rights. Rwanda does not have a great reputation with the latter.

  • Ruth Bright 14th Apr '22 - 2:52pm

    Where to start? Besides anything else the discrimination against single young men is revolting.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 14th Apr '22 - 3:20pm

    About the level we can get from this abysmal Tory party.

    Excellent article, comments.

  • George Thomas 14th Apr '22 - 6:16pm

    There always was a money tree but the Tories only ever wanted to spend on policies which were cruel, bad politics in the longer term and risked giving permission for other nations to act even worse.

    We are living in a cost of living crisis and increasingly will be experiencing the climate change crisis, how do they justify spending so much money flying people away from the UK unnecessarily?

  • nigel hunter 14th Apr '22 - 6:29pm

    Yes,deflect from Partygate and the mess the Conservatives have got the country in. PATHETIC

  • On another tack: could it actually be a serious vote loser?

  • James Fowler 14th Apr '22 - 10:46pm

    Neither this article, nor any of the comments, propose any constructive alternative to this unpleasant and absurd policy of trying to out source the issue of immigration to Rwanda. But the challenge cannot be ducked. Do liberals believe in completely open borders? Does the Home Office require more resources to deter or to assimilate? What does assimilation look like in a liberal society?

    Condemning Patel’s misconceived headline grabbing is easy, governing is a lot harder.

  • john oundle 15th Apr '22 - 1:37am

    James Fowler

    Good points.
    Indeed what are the alternative policies or is it just open borders?

  • Nonconformistradical 15th Apr '22 - 7:41am

    @James Fowler
    Does the UK take a fair share of refugees and asylum seekers?
    Chart at https://fullfact.org/immigration/asylum-seekers-uk-and-europe/ from 2015 showing refugees accepted by population shows UK much lower than other densely populated countries such as Belgium and the Netherlands.

    Are the UK’s legal routes to asylum adequate? Foreign Affairs Select Committee report suggests not at https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201919/cmselect/cmfaff/107/10708.htm#_idTextAnchor035
    “2.While the UK remained mostly insulated from large-scale arrivals to Europe in 2014–15, the human costs and political ramifications have been great. In the absence of robust and accessible legal routes for seeking asylum in the UK, those with a claim are left with little choice but to make dangerous journeys by land and sea”

    The problem as I understand is that applicants can only apply for asylum once inside UK. Seems like an open invitation to the people smugglers.

  • Mark Valladares Mark Valladares 15th Apr '22 - 8:44am

    @ James,

    Do read the article a little more closely, and you’ll find my proposed solutions – resource the Home Office properly so that it can deal with asylum applications rather more effectively than it currently does. Because, let’s face it, a chaotic and punitive system as currently exists costs far more, especially if they’re going to lose so many appeals.

    Deal with applications quickly and fairly, and you can either accept them, enabling applicants to contribute to the society they want to be part of, or return them to the country of origin (as far as is possible).

    And, as David Davis pointed out, introducing legal routes to asylum beyond our borders would reduce the incentives to use dangerous routes such as sea crossings and impact on the criminal gangs currently operating.

    Finally, asylum and immigration are conflated here by both James and John Oundle. We have obligations to asylum seekers, who are generally in fear for their lives, whereas immigration covers the whole spectrum of people wanting to come here. I was going to suggest that it was laziness but I suspect that both James and John understand the difference only too well and that the conflation is entirely deliberate.

  • Merlene Emerson 15th Apr '22 - 8:55am

    The Brits are following the example of the Danes.
    https://www.gbnews.uk/gb-views/rwanda-immigration-move-defended-as-denmark-passed-law-allowing-it-to-relocate-asylum-seekers-outside-eu/271812

    Are other European countries going to follow suit too? I don’t see any motions coming to ALDE Congress on this subject and we/they are Liberals!

    This demonstrates 2 things: 1. The Tories have probably researched this and know that anti-immigration/asylum policies play well with their core voters. 2. Many other Europeans feel the same way about foreigners/non-Whites entering Europe. Dare I use the R word?

  • David Goble 15th Apr '22 - 9:25am

    I read, yesterday, that the Prime Minister had described Rwanda as a “dynamic nation”.

    Is this the same dynamic nation in which, only a few years ago, the Hutus and Tutsis were committing genocide on each other?

    Our Prime Minister seems to have questionable judgement.

  • john oundle 15th Apr '22 - 9:59am

    Mark Valladares

    ‘Finally, asylum and immigration are conflated here by both James and John Oundle. We have obligations to asylum seekers, who are generally in fear for their lives,’

    You really believe the majority are asylum seekers & not economic migrants?

  • This government led by Boris Johnson has a questionable reputation for the well being of its own citizens let alone the poor unfortunate’s it plans to ship off over 4,000 miles away from our shores, remind you of another country that uses that method to make people disappear??

  • Maybe a properly funded border control would go a long way to sorting out legitimate refugee’s?

  • So now we have it Johnson says this action is in ‘the spirit of Brexit’ and how, “The British people voted several times to control our borders”. I won’t bother to translate the ‘dog whistle’ approach..
    This is yet another meaningless ‘We must do something/anything’ statement; right up there with ‘wave machines’ to push boats back to France and today’s “The Royal Navy will take control of the channel’ (whist ‘forgetting’ to add that there is no ‘pushback function’) .
    It’s yet another example of ‘Save Big Dog’; a statement made ‘on the hoof’ Just days after the Refugee Minister Lord Harrington said there was ‘no possibility’ of migrants being sent to Rwanda..
    As for a deterrent; what is to stop those sent to Rwanda from walking out and coming back? As for cost; the minister this morning refused to deny that ‘putting them in the Ritz Hotel would be cheaper’..
    What next; wizards casting “Stay-Away’ spells from the white cliffs?

  • David Goble 15th Apr ’22 – 9:25am:
    Is this the same dynamic nation in which, only a few years ago, the Hutus and Tutsis were committing genocide on each other?

    That was a few decades ago (1990-1994). It’s now this dynamic nation…

    ‘Rwanda tops East Africa in 2022 economic growth’ [April 2022]:
    https://furtherafrica.com/2022/04/15/rwanda-tops-east-africa-in-2022-economic-growth/

    A nation that just a generation ago tore itself apart in one of the deadliest displays of division is now working towards a common purpose with a conviction of the convert. […]

    At the heart of Rwanda’s approach has been a combination of business-friendly policies, raising the country’s standing in the World Bank’s 2019 Ease of Doing Business index. Rwanda was ranked 29th in the world and second-best in Africa. […]

    Rwanda’s life expectancy has risen from 49 in 2000 to 66.6 in 2017, while extreme poverty fell from 40 per cent to 16 per cent. From 2014 to 2019, Rwanda’s economic growth rate averaged 9.2 per cent, reaching 10.2 per cent in Q4 2019,… […]

    …Rwanda is forging ahead with Vision 2050, which lays out the objectives of transforming the country into middle-income by 2035 and high-income by 2050. […]

    …most Rwandans speak fluent English and French.

    Rwanda has prioritised its education system with an eye to the nation’s future. […]

    Three universities have been constructed in Kigali Innovation City (KIC) […]

    While Rwanda has proved wrong its doubters, the next few years will be a significant test of whether the nation can maintain its encouraging momentum.

  • Mark Valladares Mark Valladares 15th Apr '22 - 11:44am

    Might I suggest that a critique of Rwanda is somewhat missing the point.

    Offshoring of your obligations under the various Conventions is wrong, whether it be France or Vanuatu. And using what was Rwanda, as opposed to the more contemporary version, is possibly slightly patronising. I don’t often agree with Jeff, whose tendency to drop a series of sources as disagreement is vaguely perplexing, but Rwanda has come some way since the 1990s.

    Nonetheless, the Government proposal fails a series of economic, moral and ethical tests that, you would think, should be pretty mainstream.

  • john oundle 15th Apr '22 - 1:26pm

    Mark Valladares

    ‘To be honest, you give the impression of hiding your true views behind a thick veil of cynicism.’

    I thought that we were allowed to ask questions & challenge articles or is just an echo chamber you want & anyone outside the echo chamber is accused of hiding their real views?

  • Mark Valladares Mark Valladares 15th Apr '22 - 1:42pm

    @ John O,

    You’re perfectly entitled to come here and challenge me as the author. But you’re not doing that, are you?

    You’re conflating immigration and asylum quite deliberately, making an assertion about asylum seekers that places the darkest motives upon them as a group, and now playing the victim when I suggest, quite discreetly all things considered, that your views might not be terribly palatable.

    But I digress…

  • Andrew Melmoth 15th Apr '22 - 2:06pm

    Contrary to Tory lies and tabloid myth-making all the evidence from the Home Office shows that the majority of people crossing the channel in small boats are refugees.

    https://fullfact.org/immigration/scott-benton-small-boats-economic-migrants

  • James Kinsey 15th Apr '22 - 3:33pm

    This will resonate with those voters
    that gave Johnson an 80 seat majority. I’ve knocked on enough doors to realise that.
    There’s only so many Brittania hotels you can fill up.
    In the absence of any practical alternatives coming from libs/lab – the progressives are losing that traditional socially conservative support like sand through an egg timer …

  • David Goble 15th Apr '22 - 3:38pm

    @ Jeff – 15th Apr 22 11:19 am. Thank you for that encouraging information.

  • Mark Valladares Mark Valladares 15th Apr '22 - 4:32pm

    @ James Kinsey,

    You’re probably right in terms of your first statement. But given that likely voters are going to be either more engaged locally or wanting to give whoever’s in charge a good kicking, it’s not likely to be a huge factor.

    As for your second statement, I’m a great believer that, in governance as in life, doing things properly is cheaper and more effective in the long run. And there are so many good reasons why this is a bad policy that you can tailor your message towards any particular audience and still be consistent.

  • Hauwa Usman 15th Apr '22 - 4:56pm

    I agree that the shocking proposal has failed a series of economic, moral and ethical tests, definitely it is abusing human rights.

    The horror going on in my mind right now is i am imagining how it will be for those poor victims seeking asylum that are shipped to Rwanda and made to wait for only God knows how long in the camps to be granted approval to come back to the UK?, that’s if it ever happens, what if it’s planned the Rwanda camps are to be their final destinations 😢? …

    History must not repeat itself..

  • @Mark, I don’t think you are right to call John O a cynic. I’d put it the other way round, and say that although many asylum seekers are no doubt 100% genuine, it would be naive to think they all are, and indeed, if I were trying to get into the UK I would probably bend the truth a bit if it helped. We have the recent, documented case of a man who embraced Christianity during a lengthy asylum appeal, apparently in order to make it impossible to send him home (I’m thinking of the one who later blew himself up with a faulty home-made bomb). Jihadi John’s dad came to the UK to escape from ‘probable death’ in Kuwait, but after being granted asylum visited his home country on a regular basis. This doesn’t mean I’m anti-immigrant (Reader, I married one), but we have to be realistic about what is happening.

  • There is no doubt Johnson was dog-whistling to those who feel frightened and overwhelmed by the idea of foreigners coming here to live. It worked well for him during the Leave campaign, so why not give it another go ? However, we ought not to forget that both the Referendum and the 2019 general election were won by the votes of a minority of the UK population. Only the people whose votes were driven by fear and insecurity are vulnerable to populists like Farage and Johnson, and the Lib Dem Party ought to relish a fight against such shallow opponents – and win, of course, which we have been doing in recent by elections.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 15th Apr '22 - 5:44pm

    This is just so horrible that it is hard find words. We *must* fight this

  • George Thomas 15th Apr '22 - 5:54pm

    “There is no doubt Johnson was dog-whistling to those who feel frightened and overwhelmed by the idea of foreigners coming here to live..”

    It’s my believe that the majority of those concerned with incoming people are concerned because it leads to an increased competition for depleting resources where it’s perceived that this issue leads to much worse public services and, where people become desperate and vulnerable, increase in crime rates. A decade of needless austerity thanks to Clegg and Cameron, centralising investment and power in and around London (and in certain areas only at that) over several decades/hundreds of years and short-sighted politicians (seeking to polarize every debate) are the problems long before migrants and asylum seekers, but anything increasing pressure on people’s lives is a very real concern.

  • Matt Wardman 15th Apr '22 - 6:02pm

    @David Goble

    Is this the same dynamic nation in which, only a few years ago, the Hutus and Tutsis were committing genocide on each other?

    – I think you are at risk of losing perspective due to time passing. The time between the Genocide and Now is 28 years, which is the same as the time between (here) the end of WW2 rationing and the election of Maggie Thatcher !

    I do it all the time as I get older. Looking at Rwanda, their economy has grown 5x since 1990 – though the population has also grown, and I accept that it could do with a greater level of democracy. According to those who know, there has been much progress wrt poverty etc.

    @Mark Valladores

    Finally, asylum and immigration are conflated here by both James and John Oundle. We have obligations to asylum seekers, who are generally in fear for their lives, whereas immigration covers the whole spectrum of people wanting to come here.

    I appreciate the piece.

    I think everyone conflates this. Campaigning charities are likely to pretend that everyone is a refugee, and Nigel Farrage is likely to pretend that everyone is an economic migrant.

    My main impression in the conversations around the initiative is that I don’t yet know what is actually proposed, as it keeps changing, so I can’t comment very much. But also that I have yet to hear any group say anything different from that which I would expect them to say.

  • @George Thomas, I’m sure you’re right, in the case of some people, and I remember talking to a plumber whose business had been undercut by incoming Polish migrant workers. He said he was paying a mortgage for his family home and the competition were six to a room in a cheap rented flat. However, I talked to others who had nothing tangible to point to, just a feeling of dread that “Britishness” was under threat. For many people, especially those who feel insecure for other reasons, when they think of immigration, feelings are a stronger driver than logic.

  • Mark Valladares Mark Valladares 15th Apr '22 - 6:20pm

    @ Andy D.

    I make no judgement in terms of any individual asylum seeker. Some will try their luck, whereas others won’t understand how best to make their case. A well-resourced administration with clear rules will winnow out most of the false claims, and an independent appeals system will deal with the marginal cases. All this theoretically exists, but in practice an under-resourced system with a clear steer from the top to find whatever excuse to reject claims leads to costly appeals and significant waste and injustice.

    But why focus on the cheats when the majority of applicants are found to be eligible? You aren’t being realistic, you’re playing Priti’s game for her.

    @ George T.

    There is some serious content there. We can argue whether austerity was necessary, or if it went on too long, but many of the issues aren’t really to do with asylum seekers, they’re to do with long-term strategy on housebuilding, planning and public services. If we don’t “import” key public sector workers, and pay scales aren’t attractive, you’ll have shortages of doctors and nurses. If you don’t build houses, leaving it all to the private sector, you’ll have inflated house prices.

    Governments should plan economies holistically and, for the most part, they don’t. Perhaps that should be how we address issues relating to population generally.

  • @Mark, I’m delighted and grateful that you have kicked off this interesting discussion, but I wasn’t focusing on the cheats, I was pointing out that you were being unfair to John O.
    Moving on, if I may, roughly 30,000 asylum seekers per annum is too few to get excited about, unless you are Johnson, Farage or a tabloid editor. What would we all say if the war goes badly and 5 million Ukranians apply?

  • James Kinsey 15th Apr '22 - 7:46pm

    @Mark Valladares….
    Local elections will count for nothing come the GE .
    Going into that election in 2 years time with a immigration policy like you’ve outlined would be a difficult sell outside the metropolitan areas …
    Stats show the main battle ground will be around those red wall seats where voters – given my experience of their feedback, want them removed & returned to where they came from …They look at the Conservative alternatives as regards immigration & come to the conclusion that both parties would be much softer, despite how bad the Tories have been on the issue.

  • Mark Valladares Mark Valladares 15th Apr '22 - 9:07pm

    @ James K.

    Well, if you believe that the British public want people under risk of death to be sent home, then I don’t doubt that your approach is the best one. But, once again, you conflate asylum seekers with economic migrants in order to persuade me as to the value of your argument.

    May I politely remind you that we’re talking about asylum seekers here, of whom we actually don’t get that many, indeed far fewer than a number of other countries whose economies are smaller than ours.

    I would add that asylum seekers represented 6% of immigrants to the U.K. in 2019, hardly a dominant strand. In other words, legal migration, permitted by a Conservative Government, represented virtually all of those entering the country and given that non-EU citizens made up more than half of that 94%, so you might suggest that the Conservative record on meeting the apparent desires of its supporters is pretty dreadful.

  • Merlene Emerson 15th Apr ’22 – 8:55am:
    The Brits are following the example of the Danes.

    And the Danes are following the example of the British…

    ‘Blunkett backed on asylum centres’ [April 2003]:
    https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2003/apr/22/immigrationandpublicservices.thinktanks

    A leading leftwing thinktank has come out in support of home secretary David Blunkett’s controversial plan to send all asylum seekers to processing centres outside the EU. […]

    The idea of offshore processing centres has been floated at a time when Tony Blair has announced a commitment to halving the monthly total of asylum applications in Britain by September. […]

    People would have to pay, possibly through loans or payment in kind, for the support they were given in the centres to send a powerful message to potential migrants about the level of welfare support they could expect if they left home.

  • James Kinsey 16th Apr '22 - 2:54am

    @Mark Valladares…
    Mark it’s not me that conflates it – it’s the the voters ,
    they do not distinguish the two , I can assure you of that. The pressures on local services is real . Hotels up & down the country are being procured by Serco housing hundreds at a time ..That is the reality of the situation.
    No amount of stats can change peoples perception that the it cannot continue as it is … Wakefield by-election will be interesting – a seat labour held for 87 years until 2019. Labour will need to win & win big, anything else will be a disaster for Starmer .

  • James Kinsey is right, and the distinction between economic migrants and asylum seekers is already lost on voters. Migrants will increasingly be people trying to escape death by starvation, as global warming hits African harvests. How do we classify them? Economic migrants?

  • Roger Roberts 16th Apr '22 - 8:56am

    Sotrry not to have commented earlier but what concerns me most is the lack of opportunity to debate these proposals in parliament. At the whim of Johnson and Patel these measures are approved.

    By ignoring parliament, (during the recess) are we not undermining very seriously our democratic government ? DANGER/

  • Brad Barrows 16th Apr '22 - 11:37am

    @Andy Daer
    You pose an interesting question by asking whether people seeking to escape death by starvation are economic migrants. Unfortunately the answer is ‘yes’ since, in almost all situations where countries suffer from food shortages and people are starving, it is the poorest in society who are the ones who starve – food is usually available to purchase but at prices that many/most can’t afford. (And international relief efforts only start in famine areas at the point when food supplies have run out even though, by this stage, poor people are already dying of starvation – a deliberate policy to ensure that locally produced food is all bought first as a way of protecting the farming sector from the effects of free food being made available.) Therefore people fleeing areas of famine are the poorest who are most at risk because of their poverty – they are seeking to flee poverty rather than political persecution etc, so would count as economic migrants rather than asylum seekers.

  • Npnconformistradical 16th Apr '22 - 4:49pm

    ” in almost all situations where countries suffer from food shortages and people are starving, it is the poorest in society who are the ones who starve – food is usually available to purchase but at prices that many/most can’t afford.”
    Or maybe, rather than starve, if there is terrorist activity in the country mightn’t such people become easy recruits for the terrorists – they’d then be paid…?

    And the ‘starving people are economic migrants’ issue is only going to get worse.

  • Discussion seems to have moved on a bit from the the Ruanda plan, but I think the central issue is still that voters may agree that Priti Patel is too harsh, but at the same time think we are too soft, and believe we have an ‘open door’ policy. We need an alternative to the government’s position on both asylum and immigration which is simple and easy to understand, deals with the real problems we all face, not those in a fantasy world where being nice to each other solves everything, and which showcases Liberal Democrat values.

  • In the Coalition we sensibly thought the answer was foreign aid targeted to improve lives in deprived countries and make people want to stay at home instead of migrating, but Brexit Britain doesn’t do compassion or common sense.
    However, the British public will only put up with Patel’s smug smirk for so long (and she doesn’t know how to turn it off) and I’m convinced a landslide of Liberal Democrat victories in 2024 is very credible. All the more reason for our policy to go beyond mere criticism and be something we can use in government.

  • David Evershed 17th Apr '22 - 12:32pm

    France is a safe country.

    Genuine asylum seekers would have no justifiable reason to pay trafficers to travel from a safe country like France and make a dangerous jounney in a dingy across the Channnel to England.

    The vast majority of those crossing the Channel in dingies are young men who are economic migrants.

    Once in operation the new arrangements should cause a dramatic decline in these economic migrants.

    No country has an open door to economic migrants from all countries in the world.

  • Andrew Melmoth 17th Apr '22 - 3:03pm

    – David Evershed
    If you were an Afghan who had been a translator for the British forces and whose life was now in danger in Afghanistan would it not be quite natural to apply for asylum in the UK? Quite apart from the fact you speak English and probably have contacts and friends here the army is likely to have documentation to support your claim.

    It is simply not true that “vast majority of those crossing the Channel in dingies are young men who are economic migrants”. This is Tory party disinformation. They lie about this like they lie about everything else.

    https://fullfact.org/immigration/scott-benton-small-boats-economic-migrants

  • Andrew Melmoth 17th Apr '22 - 3:14pm

    – Jeff
    A refugee under David Blunkett’s plan would have been given EU citizenship. The government’s plan is to deport refugees to Rwanda permanently. The two schemes are therefore hardly comparable. If you are looking for a political precedent you’d be better off googling for National Front manifestos from the seventies.

  • Nonconformistradical 17th Apr '22 - 3:40pm

    Reminds me a little of what was going on over persecution of Jews in Russia…..

    https://www.newvision.co.ug/news/1428141/britain-gifted-uganda-creation-israel-territory
    “How Uganda was given as Jewish territory

    When Herzl began his quest to establish a homeland for the Jewish people, he sought out the support of the great powers to help achieve his goal.

    In 1903, Herzl turned to Great Britain and met with Joseph Chamberlain, the British colonial secretary and others high ranking officials who agreed in principle to Jewish settlement in East Africa.

    At the Sixth Zionist Congress at Basel on August 26, 1903, Herzl proposed the British Uganda Program as a temporary refuge for Jews in Russia in immediate danger.

    By a vote of 295 to 178 it was decided to send an investigatory commission to examine the territory proposed (the Karamoja region in Northern Uganda).

    Three days later the British government released an official document allocating a Jewish territory in East Africa on conditions which will enable members to observe their national customs.”

  • James Kinsey 17th Apr '22 - 3:43pm

    @ Andrew Melmoth…
    The point people are trying to make Andrew is what’s the alternatives ? …Having hotels being procured weekly to house thousands of them is unsustainable , the pressure on services is real ..
    Safer routes for asylum applications would be a virtual open door policy given the figures, & those that are denied could still get in a dinghy to Dover …
    Make no mistake – in those red wall seats, which will amount to the main battle ground come a GE , the working class socially conservative vote – this will resonate with them.
    If the libs & lab don’t recognise peoples deep concerns as regards this, they will continue to learn the hard way as power will be denied time & again at the ballot box..

  • Andrew Melmoth 17th Apr '22 - 4:45pm

    – James Kinsey
    The vast majority of refugees stay in neighbouring countries. Relatively few travel to Europe and of those that do only a small percentage apply for asylum in the UK. Our asylum application per capita rate is almost half the EU average. We are 18th in the table of asylum applications to European countries. If you look at data historically then it is very unlikely providing more legal routes would significantly increase numbers.

    I’m in my fifties and often find myself wondering when we became such a weak, frightened little country. What happened to our confidence, our pride, and our generosity? Why do we expect other European countries to show moral leadership while we cower off the coast scared of people fleeing horrors which we can barely imagine and will probably never have to face ourselves?

    I don’t doubt this ‘policy’ will play well in some quarters. But this country has been run for the last 12 years according to the preferences of the 30% or so of the electorate that forms the Tory base. I suggest things haven’t gone very well. Perhaps it’s about time the other 70% of the country got a look in.

  • Nonconformistradical 17th Apr '22 - 4:51pm

    @James Kinsey
    “what’s the alternatives ? …”
    How about allowing asylum seekers to claim asylum in the UK from somewhere outside the UK? Because at present that isn’t possible. But for some people the UK might be the most appropriate country due to prior connections with the country.

    And for people who do manage to apply inside the UK the Home Office process seems utterly dysfunctional – how much is that costing in wasted resources?

    How about restoring cuts in UK overseas aid? If people are fleeing from famine-ravaged countries (as opposed to fear of persecution) aren’t you willing to help them?

  • I don’t think it’s possible to have an immigration policy that is both liberal and will appeal to the sort of people who think this is a good idea. But I’m not sure we need to.

  • James Kinsey 17th Apr '22 - 5:44pm

    @Andrew Melmoth…
    All well & good Andrew – but there’s 1 million + on our social housing list .
    Hotels are housing thousands at significant cost – just how many should we be taking , as that’s the question you’d be asked come canvassing on any housing estate.
    Those pressures are real for so many communities.
    GE’s are fought with fptp – to enact change that’s the system you’d need to win under.
    European moral leadership….Just 3 months ago 19 asylum seekers froze to death on the EU borders – met with batons , water cannons, & barbed wire, beaten back time & again. Afghan refugees housed in Greek jail’s in appalling conditions …
    Britain should take no lessons on morality from the EU.

  • Nonconformistradical 17th Apr '22 - 5:57pm

    @James Kinsey
    “there’s 1 million + on our social housing list .”
    And how many empty homes are there? A lot!
    https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/research-briefings/sn03012/
    “Statistics published by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) put the number of empty homes in England in October 2019 at 648,114. This represents a 2.2% increase on the previous year’s total. Of the 648,114, 225,845 were classed as long-term empty properties (empty for longer than six months).”

  • @James Kinsey, you say “Britain should take no lessons on morality from the EU.” Unfortunately that’s exactly what some British politicians do need lessons on, as most of the contributors to this string have already pointed out. We have a government willing to outsource anything and everything, including a duty of basic humanity to asylum seekers. Your argument appears to rest on one dreadful incident in one country in the EU, a national group which actually represents 27 states and 450 million people. Many of those states take more asylum seekers than we do.

  • Andrew Melmoth 17th Apr '22 - 7:42pm

    @James Kinsey
    “there’s 1 million + on our social housing list .”

    Best estimates based on the Australian scheme to off-shore the processing of asylum claims mean that your policy choice is a) deport a refugee to Rwanda or b) build ten council houses in the UK.

  • Tristan Ward 18th Apr '22 - 12:33pm

    Senior civil servant not satisfied money will be saved by this policy. Asks Home Secretary for evidence. She doesn’t produce any, but wants policy to go ahead anyway.

    Why?

    https://davidallengreen.com/2022/04/what-the-home-secretarys-ministerial-direction-on-rwanda-signifies-and-what-it-does-not-signify/

  • David Evershed 18th Apr '22 - 11:22pm

    Andrew Melmoth 3.03pm

    Once the Rwanda process in operation we will see if the bulk of those young males crossing the Channel are asylum seekers or economic migrants.

    If the numbers of young males reduces substantially then we will know that they were economic migrants who don’ seek a safe country like Rwanda but seek a life in the UK.

  • Processing asylum claims in Rwanda is clearly worse than doing so in a country like France even if Rwanda is doing better nowadays because 1) Rwanda does not have the capacity to provide services such as healthcare to people who have experienced complex trauma 2) It will be extremely hard for UK lawyers to represent clients in Rwanda 3) It will be harder to monitor abuses of rights 4) Rwandas track record on human rights has led to some of their citizens claiming asylum in other countries.

    Onshore processing is best but offshoring to another European country is not the worst alternative.

  • Here’s a radical idea. Let’s stop pandering to the bigots who want to keep out anyone remotely not British and actually stand on principle. Let’s welcome people who want to come and live in the UK, provide clear routes to do so and allow all to work. Let’s also build the necessary homes we need and bring the empty properties into use by compulsory purchase if necessary. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

  • Nonconformistradical 19th Apr '22 - 12:35pm

    I suggested here on 14 April restoring cuts to overseas aid.

    Turns out that the aid going to Ukraine is being taken from the already shrunken aid budget so other aid programmes will be cut further.

    https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/ukraine-aid-russia-liz-truss-b2060647.html

  • Andrew Tampion 20th Apr '22 - 7:32am

    Mick Taylor. “Let’s welcome people who want to come and live in the UK, provide clear routes to do so and allow all to work. ”
    Including Non doms?
    More seriously how do you propose to the problem that many people from poor parts of the world will want to move to rich parts of the world while few people from rich parts of the world will move to poor parts of the world.
    This would cause tensions in countries with high nett inward migration. At least in the UK cause problems with access to resources like water. Also countries with high nett outward migration would possible suffer from labour shortages.
    If we could “level up” (where have I heard that before?) the world before allowing freedom of movement then I believe your goal, which I share, would go a lot better.

  • Nonconformistradical 20th Apr '22 - 7:41am

    @Andrew Tampion
    “….many people from poor parts of the world will want to move to rich parts of the world while few people from rich parts of the world will move to poor parts of the world…”
    Quite. How many people can Planet Earth accomodate – now and in the future?

    Are we just going to let the people in the poorer areas starve?

  • Peter Hirst 20th Apr '22 - 1:13pm

    I can’t blame Justine Welby for speaking out on this inhumane policy. Creating legal routes to claim asylum isn’t hard, it just needs some compassion. In fact making it easy might reduce the number using it.

  • Roger Roberts 20th Apr '22 - 8:47pm

    Roger Roberts questioning the legality of the Rwanda proposals

    Under the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010 (CRAG), the Government must lay treaties before Parliament for 21 sitting days prior to ratification and provide an explanatory memorandum (EM) alongside it. Under CRAG, the House of Commons has the power to delay ratification, while the House of Lords has only advisory power. If the Commons passes a resolution that the treaty should not be ratified, a further 21 sitting day period is triggered which would prevent the Government from proceeding. It can repeatedly pass further resolutions, postponing ratification indefinitely. In ‘exceptional cases’, a minister may ratify a treaty without going through this process but the Government cannot do so once either House has passed a resolution. A limitation of the CRAG scrutiny process, however, is that there is no requirement for making time for debates or votes—although the Government has committed to facilitating debates if requested by the relevant parliamentary committees

  • Roger Roberts 20th Apr ’22 – 8:47pm:
    Under the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010 (CRAG), the Government must lay treaties…

    It’s a MOU…

    ‘Memorandum of Understanding between the government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the government of the Republic of Rwanda for the provision of an asylum partnership arrangement’ [14th. April 2022]:
    https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/memorandum-of-understanding-mou-between-the-uk-and-rwanda/memorandum-of-understanding-between-the-government-of-the-united-kingdom-of-great-britain-and-northern-ireland-and-the-government-of-the-republic-of-r

    1.6 This Arrangement will not be binding in International law.

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