Vince Cable: UK needs to take lead on Afghan refugee crisis

Writing in the Independent, former Lib Dem leader Vince Cable talks of harrowing scenes at Kabul airport and asks if Britain is planning to take enough Afghan refugees and whether the Home Office is thinking of treating them with a generous spirit. Some Afghans working for our government will be told they do not have a strong enough connection with Britain, even though the documents showing that connection could qualify them for execution by the Taliban. Are we an overcrowded island? Or will we benefit from people who bring skills, entrepreneurial energy, cultural diversity and a supply of labour to regenerate an ageing country? Or should we simply accept refugees out of compassion?

In the Independent, Vince Cable says:

The harrowing scenes at Kabul airport, as desperate refugees try to reach planes bound for western countries, are provoking a moral and practical crisis: for whom are we responsible? Specifically, is Britain – with its offer to take 5,000 people this year and eventually 20,000 – doing enough?

The mindset of the Home Office officials who will process [Afghan] claims to asylum should they get here is seemingly not generous, nor are the policies to which they work. And they will not be approved as refugees to be provided safe passage here if they are among the hundreds or thousands of Afghans whose connection with the UK is deemed too slight… even though the connection may qualify them for a Taliban execution…

Indeed, Afghans now have the awful dilemma of whether to keep their official papers to convince British bureaucrats of their identity or to destroy them to avoid betraying their foreign links to the Taliban….

At every crisis over asylum and migration there has been a schism between those who believe that Britain is an “overcrowded island” which is “full” and can’t afford the cost of newcomers, and those who see merit in admitting people who bring skills, entrepreneurial energy, cultural diversity and a supply of labour to regenerate an ageing country – or simply merit compassion…

While the Home Office will be doing everything it can to keep the numbers down, there is a chance for Boris Johnson to confound expectations by blocking its institutional hostility from the off.

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One Comment

  • Lorenzo Cherin 26th Aug '21 - 1:16pm

    This is only valid as a debate. You cannot say this is as it is and have not one moment of debate.

    We do not have a supply of doctors, nurses, admin, teachers, social workers, like other countries.

    Sir Vince shrunk the state in coalition.

    Most states combine far more social market input on eg. healthcare. Hence supply and demand are far more fluid. We fail. Pre covid, already this was so. Now, far more so.

    Sir Vince should own up to his, New Labour in later years, and the Tories, failure to do much about that ratio.

    Then he can lecture on whether a busy community are allowed to be concerned with longer waiting in pain.

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