How to fix Britain’s broken asylum system

Asylum is often seen as a simple morality tale—the generous spirited are in favour of it, the hard-hearted against. And we certainly read plenty of high moral dudgeon directed at the Home Office’s pedestrian response to the Ukraine refugee crisis. Much of that criticism was deserved. The lack of preparedness and then the inability to adapt quickly under pressure and allow in anyone with a Ukrainian passport, especially those with relatives here, while sorting out the bureaucracy once they arrived, was indeed dismaying. But the tale relayed for almost a week from almost every media outlet—from the BBC via the Telegraph and Spectator to the New Statesman and Observer/Guardian—of a

Boris must act to prevent a repeat of the Channel migrant tragedy

The tragic drowning of more than two dozen people in the English Channel yesterday should remind us that closing down this irregular migration route has become a multi-purpose moral duty. Not only does the British state have a responsibility to do so to preserve its social contract with its citizens and the integrity of the nation, but also to protect lives. The large-scale loss of life that took place was the proverbial accident that had been waiting to happen. There has been a spate of smaller-scale drownings in recent weeks and it was only a matter of time before a fully laden, sizeable inflatable capsized or sank. Boris Johnson reacted

Why the Channel migrant crisis is spooking Boris

The Tory position in the polls is weakening. Partly this is because of the vaccine bounce wearing off and a fortnight or so of sleaze stories. But, as I write in the Times today, ministers thinks that there’s another issue harming the government: small boats. ‘The sleaze is bad, but the issue that causes me most trouble with my constituents is the boats,’ says one cabinet member. Johnson himself has long been concerned about this problem. He worries about the sense of disorder that the small boats convey: he thinks they make a mockery of ‘taking back control’ of the borders. A long-serving No. 10 aide says that ‘other than Covid, no issue

France is using migrants just like Belarus

It was hard not to laugh, coldly, at the statement from western members of the UN Security Council that condemned Belarus for engineering the migrant crisis on its border with Poland. Following Thursday’s emergency UN Security Council meeting, western members published a joint statement, accusing Belarus of putting migrants’ lives in danger ‘for political purposes’. That’s true, of course, but to hear such words from France. Quelle hypocrisie! There are far fewer migrants camping out in cardboard cities in Paris this year. Why? Because these camps have been broken up and the migrants – overwhelmingly young men from Africa and the Middle East – have headed north to Calais. Once

It’s time for Boris to turn back the Channel migrant boats

There is a sentence in the latest BBC report on English Channel migrant crossings that is just exquisite. Thursday saw 1,000 people arrive in Britain unauthorised — a new record — and the story on the Corporation’s website explains how UK Border Force boats, as well as lifeboats, ferried the arrivals to Dover. However, it added: ‘A Whitehall source accused France of losing control of the situation.’ It’s a line worthy of Swift. Britain is seeing record levels of illegal migration, the Home Office is running a maritime Uber service, and somehow it’s all the French’s fault. Some wonder why the Boris Johnson era hasn’t produced any great political satire

Boris and Priti can’t blame France for the Channel migrant crisis

The sun is beating down again, the waves are less choppy in the English Channel and the small boats full of irregular migrants are pouring across once more. At least 1,000 men, women and children were reportedly spotted landing on the south coast yesterday. If these numbers are correct, it would have shattered the previous daily record of 828, recorded on 21 August. But Home Office sources were today briefing that was an over-estimate and the likely official number will be about 740, merely the second highest daily total ever. The graphs plotting the staggering acceleration of this traffic make grim reading indeed – this is one curve that has never

Priti Patel is running out of excuses for the Channel migrant crisis

When immigration minister Chris Philp announced last summer that he was in the process of agreeing a ‘new operational plan’ with his French counterparts to stop the cross-Channel traffic in irregular migrants, it seemed as though the government was finally getting a grip on the crisis. In a statement to camera he declared:  ‘We had a very constructive meeting with our French colleagues in Paris this morning. We have reaffirmed our unshakeable shared commitment to making sure this route of crossing the Channel is made unviable…we have worked on a joint operational plan, with the objective in mind of completely cutting this route. We’re going to work at pace in the

Enforcing new fisheries policy isn’t ‘gunboat diplomacy’

No, the Channel isn’t going to erupt into naval warfare, and neither is the Prime Minister engaging in ‘gunboat diplomacy’ by deploying Royal Naval vessels to keep French fishing boats out of UK waters in the event of Brexit transitional arrangements ending on 31 December with no trade deal. Yet that seems to be the view of Tobias Ellwood the Conservative chairman of the Defence Select Committee, who protested to the Today programme this morning: ‘This isn’t Elizabethan times anymore, this is global Britain – we need to be raising the bar much higher than this.’ Actually – although it may be news to Mr Ellwood, even in his role