Asylum seekers

Is the rest of the world still working from home?

Scout’s honour Thousands of teenagers were evacuated from the World Scout Jamboree in South Korea as flooding, a heatwave and then the threat of a typhoon affected the event. What exactly is a ‘jamboree’? – Lord Baden-Powell adopted the word for the first gathering of scouts at Kensington Olympia in 1920. But the word itself can be traced back to the mid-19th-century American West, when it was used for a drunken revel – presumably not what Baden-Powell nor subsequent heads of the scouting movement would encourage. – The first documentary evidence for use of the word is in the report of a murder trial in the New York Herald in

Suella’s Ascension Island plan doesn’t go far enough

There is nothing new under the sun. The idea of opening an asylum processing centre on the British overseas territory of Ascension Island has been knocking around for 20 years, but reports in today’s papers suggest it is suddenly all the rage again. Ministers are scrambling to find a ‘plan B’ in case the Supreme Court confirms the Appeal Court’s controversial view that the long-delayed Rwanda policy is unlawful. Way back in 2005, the Conservatives made a commitment in their manifesto that ‘asylum seekers’ applications will be processed outside Britain’. In the run up to that year’s election, Mark Reckless, then a researcher at Conservative Central Office, conducted a scoping

Priti Patel is playing into Paul Kagame’s hands

If President Paul Kagame has been tracking the furore over Priti Patel’s plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda, he’s been doing it on the hoof. Kagame moves constantly these days: the news broke while he was en route to Barbados after a visit to Jamaica. In the past two months he has been to Congo-Brazzaville, Kenya (twice), Zambia, Germany (twice), Egypt, Jordan, Qatar, Mauritania, Senegal and Belgium. How the president of one of Africa’s poorest nations can afford all this travelling is a puzzle, and the fact that his Gulfstream jet is supplied by Crystal Ventures, his Rwandan Patriotic Front’s monopolistic investment arm, raises interesting budgetary questions. In a

Britain must give Ukrainians an unconditional right to asylum

During the Cold War, any citizen of a Soviet bloc country who made it to Britain and claimed asylum was welcomed with open arms. The fact people wished to take great risks to move westwards for safety and shelter, while hardly anyone wanted to move in the opposite direction, settled the question of which system was better. Besides, the numbers who made it out were tiny – the brutality of border guards patrolling the Iron Curtain saw to that. In recent years, the concept of asylum has been complicated by the debate on how to handle the much larger flow of migrants who are prepared to risk their lives fleeing

A Canadian’s experience of the migrant’s ordeal

No one boards an overladen dinghy and sets out across a choppy sea without very good reason. Laden into migrant boats go backstories as well as bodies: tales of war-hit homes and bloodied police cells, of empty larders and decrepit schools. But illegal migration is as much about what lies ahead as what’s left behind: the hope of a better life, the chance to start anew. That was certainly the case with Omar, a young Afghan taxi driver and former interpreter. Back when the Canadian-born freelance correspondent Matthieu Aikins first arrived in Kabul, the Corolla-owning Omar had been a single gung-ho guy about town. Seven years later, with foreign troops

The powerlessness of Priti Patel

It is hard not to feel sorry for Priti Patel. She would surely have been a Tory conference darling at the gathering that never happened back in autumn 2020 at the height of the pandemic. Back then she always came towards the top of cabinet ministers’ popularity in the monthly survey conducted by the Conservative Home website. But this year the Home Secretary’s ratings have dropped like a stone. She currently sits in 29th place, staring up in envy at such magnetic figures as Alok Sharma and Alister Jack and without even the comfort of knowing that there is always Gavin Williamson to look down on. In the mini-hall being used

Can Priti Patel’s asylum shake-up help Britain take back control?

Every Home Secretary is forced to confront the cold political realities of the office. What they set out to deliver – strengthening countermeasures in the aftermath of a terror attack, say, or taking steps to tackle a spike in violent crime – tends to be supported by swathes of the public at large. But though they can enjoy that currency of quiet public support, Home Secretaries of both major parties must then do battle ‘inside the Beltway’ with a vociferous legal and human rights establishment – and other vested interests ­– which seek to dilute their policy responses to the challenge of the day. To use a term of art,