Nicholas Farrell Nicholas Farrell

How Georgia Meloni plans to stop the boats

(Photo: Getty)

Few can deny that the arrival of 100,000 illegal migrants to Britain from France by small boat since 2018 is nothing short of a catastrophe. 

 So what word would best describe the arrival in Italy by sea from North Africa of 100,000 illegal migrants already this year? 

So Meloni’s main focus is not on dealing with the migrants once they are in Italy but on stopping them getting to Italy

That is well over double the number of migrant sea arrivals in Italy during the same period in 2022. It means this year’s total will almost certainly break the record set in 2016 of 181,436. This weekend alone more than 4,000 migrants arrived by boat on the tiny Italian island of Lampedusa half way between Tunisia and Italy.

The record number of illegal migrant sea arrivals in Italy this year would seem to prove that the country’s new conservative Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, like her British counterpart Rishi Sunak, has totally and utterly failed to honour her 2022 election campaign pledge to stop the boats. 

But, in fact, the situation in Italy – thus Europe – would be far worse if she were not in charge. 

She knows, as everyone knows, that once migrants set foot in your country it is virtually impossible to deport them anywhere, let alone to Rwanda. 

So Meloni’s main focus is not on dealing with the migrants once they are in Italy but on stopping them getting to Italy. 

Since coming to power last October she has devoted much of her energy to cajoling reluctant European Union leaders into agreeing that the migrant crisis is not just Italy’s but Europe’s problem and that the EU should pay – i.e. bribe – North Africa to stop migrants at the source. 

Traditionally, Libya has been the preferred people smuggler departure point in the central Mediterranean, even though it is over 300 miles away from Sicily.

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