Politicians can’t win on illegal migration

It is eight years now since The Spectator sent me to Lampedusa to see the boats coming in. That was at the start of the 2015 migrant crisis. The island, which is home to just 6,000 locals, had just buckled under the weight of another 1,300 arrivals. I followed them to Sicily and then on up and across the continent. If I may be self-referential for a moment, it was on Lampedusa that I realised the scale of the problem and got the opening lines of my resulting book, The Strange Death of Europe: ‘Europe is committing suicide. Or at least its leaders have decided to commit suicide. Whether the

Stephen Daisley

Why The Spectator is wrong to call for amnesty for illegal migrants

The Spectator is a magazine for conservatives written by liberals. From that tension comes an editorial persuasion — there is no line — that can seem winsome, beguiling, even perverse. Optimistic but never idealist, sceptical of the big but not the new, The Spectator combines a radical’s grasp of the possible with a reactionary’s sense of the inevitable. It is instinctually Whiggish but plagued by spasms of Toryism, looking forward through the rear-view mirror of life. If National Review is in the business of standing athwart history yelling ‘stop’, the The Spectator has more often been found sprinting ahead of history yelling ‘hurry up’. In the 1860s, it came close to

Portrait of the week: Met misconduct, Starmer in Paris and Spanish football in turmoil

Home Rishi Sunak, the Prime Minister, proposed reaching net zero in 2050 ‘in a better, more proportionate way’ such as by delaying a ban on the sales of new petrol and diesel cars and delaying the phasing out of gas boilers. Ford the car makers told him it would undermine the three things it needed from the government: ‘ambition, commitment and consistency’. Inflation decreased from 6.8 per cent annually in July to 6.7 per cent in August despite a rise in oil prices. Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, appointed commissioners to run Birmingham, which had run out of money. A man was killed by two dogs, said to

Do 20mph speed limits really save lives?

Within limits Do 20mph speed limits save lives? – A 2018 report by Atkins/AECOM/UCL found that 51% of motorists conformed to the new limit (47% in residential areas and 65% in city centres). – When a 20mph zone replaced a 30mph one the median speed fell by 0.7mph in residential areas and 0.9mph in city centres. It was found that there was insufficient evidence to judge whether the 20mph limit reduced casualties: while accident rates had tended to fall within the zones, the same was true of comparator zones which had remained at 30mph. – Only one area of 20mph zones (in Brighton) had seen a significant fall in casualties

Portrait of the week: Scottish drug deaths, more strikes and the Lucy Letby verdict

Home The number of drug deaths in Scotland fell to 1,051 in 2022, the lowest since 2017, but still the worst record per head in Europe. Rishi Sunak, the Prime Minister, who in March had pledged ‘to stop the boats once and for all’, said that ‘there is not one simple solution and it can’t be solved overnight’. On a sunny Monday, 661 migrants landed in Britain in 16 small boats; one man, on making landfall, made the Albanian eagle gesture popular among football supporters. England was defeated 1-0 by Spain in the final of the women’s football World Cup; the Spanish Prime Minister said that Spanish FA president Luis

Portrait of the Week: The Crooked House fire, Liz Truss’s honours and a Commonwealth Games flop

Home The first of about 500 asylum seekers were taken to live on the Bibby Stockholm barge on the Isle of Portland, north of the prison and linked to the mainland by one road. The arrival of 339 migrants by small boat across the Channel at the weekend brought the year’s total to 15,071. The government declared it would increase enforcement action against lawyers who ‘coach illegal migrants to lie’ in making claims. Fines were to be tripled for employers and landlords who allow illegal migrants to work for them (up to £45,000 per illegal worker for a first breach) or rent their properties, the Home Secretary announced. The 18th-century

Why do the Tories force asylum seekers to live on welfare?

Over decades of service as a floating hotel, the Bibby Stockholm has accommodated all manner of people. It has housed workers for a Swedish wind farm and for the new Shetland gas plant; homeless people in Hamburg, asylum seekers in Rotterdam. It was briefly considered as a ‘high-end’ barge for students: with 222 en-suite rooms, a restaurant, TV room and gym, it was touted to Irish universities as a floating hall of residence. It makes sense, then, that the government considers the vessel a suitable place to house asylum seekers – given that Britain has so few large residential spaces available. But the mooring of the Bibby Stockholm in Portland

Why not house refugees on barges?

‘By the light of the torches, we saw the black Hulk lying out a little way from the mud of the shore, like a wicked Noah’s ark. Cribbed and barred and moored by massive rusty chains, the prison-ship seemed in my young eyes to be ironed like the prisoners. We saw the boat go alongside, and we saw him taken up the side and disappear. Then, the ends of the torches were flung hissing into the water, and went out, as if it were all over with him.’ It is with a pleasurable shudder that most of us will remember Charles Dickens’s description, in Great Expectations, of the wicked Noah’s ark

The myths around immigration

After the media bigged up the expiration of America’s Covid-era Title 42, which enabled the US to block entries into the country, the anticipated stampede across the southern border doesn’t seem to have occurred. No worries, then? Behold the miracle of social adaptation. Before the handy illegal immigrant ejection seat was retired last week, illegal entries from Mexico had risen to 11,000 per day – if sustained, more than four million per year, and that’s after 2.3 million southern border apprehensions last year. The record-breaking influx had already become a stampede, and apparently people can get used to anything. As for why the ever-escalating surge of visitors for life, obviously

Liz Truss is a liberal. So how will she approach immigration?

Should Tories already be feeling buyer’s remorse over their new leader? It has been only 20 days since Boris Johnson, a liberal who pretended to be a populist, was replaced by Liz Truss, a liberal who doesn’t pretend to be anything other than a liberal. Whereas Johnson’s was a patrician liberalism with a keen sense of public opinion, Truss is an economic liberal with a swot’s enthusiasm and a swot’s grasp of human instincts. In short, the Tories have swapped a lazy dissembler for an ardent geek. It’s not all they’ve swapped. The communitarian shift that began under Theresa May has been set in reverse and libertarianism has regained the

Letters: Afghan interpreters deserve better from Britain

Welcome changes Sir: Lloyd Evans’s sympathetic piece on the fate of Afghans once they arrive in the UK made for sobering reading (‘New arrivals’, 18 December). In the Sulha Alliance we are endeavouring to support those Afghans and their families who served with and alongside British forces in Afghanistan. That is not the totality of Afghan migrants, but of the former interpreters and their families it can be truly said ‘they are here because we were there’ — and we owe them. I will not go over the whole sorry saga of the UK’s mistreatment of this group, but we really need a step change in how they are looked

What happens to Afghan migrants when they reach the UK?

Migrants continue to cross the Channel and to reach Britain by other means. But what happens once they arrive? The answer for many is a new life of boredom and endless waiting. Dotted around the south coast are hotels where these people are housed, hidden out of sight. I went to meet some of them. A dozen Afghan families have ended up at a hotel three miles from Canterbury. The new arrivals numbered about 35 in all, including children, and the hotel seemed delighted to welcome them. ‘We are proud,’ said a poster in the lobby, ‘to be part of the programme to resettle the Afghan community in the UK.’

Matthew Parris

The conflict at the heart of the migrant question

A friend, a Cambridge professor, passing my old college last week, was startled to encounter a young lady standing outside shouting something and carrying a placard exhorting Mathew [sic] Parris to [expletive deleted] off. He wondered if I knew what this was all about. I don’t, but suppose it relates to my Times column arguing (about asylum seekers) that we do not have an equal obligation to all, but rather concentric circles of obligation at the centre of which we stand, the first circle being to self and family, the next to close friends, neighbours and community, then to nation and, finally, to all mankind. The conclusion to this argument

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

I’m getting sick of the Tories

I suppose this happens to all of us at different speeds, but I am getting a little fed up of this government. In particular, I am getting fed up of the gap between its rhetoric and its actions. Most of the time this is most noticeable with the Prime Minister, who gives his base the occasional morsel of right-wingery only to then force-feed them great dollops of lefty-greenery. On a trip to Washington, Priti Patel has demonstrated that she is also no stranger to this tactic. So far we have had Patel (the DC version) talk about ‘the mass migration crisis’, as though she is merely an observer of the crisis

James Forsyth

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

Is Boris brave enough to solve the Channel migrant crisis?

The sheer number of useless interventions that have been touted as offering a solution to the cross-Channel migrants crisis is bewildering. Various rounds of talks with France about heightened cooperation to make the route non-viable; paying large sums of money to France to fund beach patrols; appointing a cross-Channel Clandestine Threat Commander; threatening to ‘call in’ the Royal Navy; threatening to turn back overladen boats in the world’s busiest shipping lane; pressuring social media platforms to prevent successful landers from sharing videos of themselves looking happy and triumphant that supposedly create a pull factor for others; even a direct prime ministerial interview to camera promising ‘we will send you back’.

Poland’s Belarusian border conflict is becoming violent

The EU’s conflict with Belarus is heating up. The simmering migrant crisis on the Polish border with Belarus exploded into a new level of intensity on Monday, as large groups of migrants marched through Belarus towards Poland before attempting to storm barbed wire fences and force their way into the Schengen zone. The Polish government responded to the violation of its border with military force. Twelve thousand troops are now being deployed along the border. When migrants managed to break a section of the fence near Kuznica on Monday, a rank of Polish soldiers filled the gap as a military helicopter flew low overhead in an attempt to deter the

Why did neo-Nazis patrol the German border?

Just after midnight last Sunday, around 50 vigilantes gathered in east Germany to ‘patrol’ the country’s border with Poland. They were there to stop illegal immigrants, armed as they did so with batons, a machete, a bayonet and pepper spray. They were discovered by local police forces, but a certain nervousness from the authorities was palpable as they pleaded with residents in the eastern border regions to not take the law into their own hands. While the array of confiscated weapons suggests a well thought out plan, these ‘patrols’ are by no means coherent. The largest single group was reportedly stopped by the police in the border village of Groß Gastrose

Priti Patel strikes a bullish tone

The theme of Priti Patel’s party conference speech this afternoon was very much ‘large and in charge’. She devoted much of her address to talking about the immigration system, as you’d expect, promising stronger crackdowns on people being smuggled across the Channel in boats. Patel focused on the Vote Leave favourite: taking back control Whereas Boris Johnson and Michael Gove have talked about Britain ‘voting for change’ in 2016, Patel focused on the Vote Leave favourite: taking back control. She told the conference hall this was the key theme of her reforms to immigration, saying: ‘My new plan for immigration is already making its way through parliament. At the heart of