The problem with the Brexit migration report

Farming out the development of post-Brexit UK migration policy to a professor from the LSE was a political masterstroke by the former Home Secretary Amber Rudd. How much harder it will be for Remainers to condemn the government’s position on migration as some kind of racist, xenophobic exercise knowing that it has been formed in one of the liberal establishment’s favourite seats of learning. Yet there is nothing in Sir Alan Manning’s report which could not have come from the pen of a ‘populist’ politician trying to satisfy public grievance on migration. While it is no doubt true that some people voted Brexit in the hope of stopping all migration,

Elin Ersson’s ‘citizen-activism’ comes at a heavy price | 31 July 2018

Last week, a 22-year old Swede called Elin Ersson made headlines around the world for her ‘citizen-activism’. Learning that a failed asylum seeker from Afghanistan was to be deported from her country, she bought a seat on the plane that was due to take him part of the way back home (as far as Turkey). Once she was on board the plane Ersson refused to sit down. Filming the whole thing on her mobile phone (natch) Ms Ersson insisted that to send the failed asylum-seeker to his home country would be consigning him to ‘death’ because Afghanistan is ‘hell’. After about 15 minutes of this Ms Ersson got her way.

How the EU’s migration crisis is making Brexit more difficult

Next week’s EU Council will see little progress on Brexit. As I write in The Sun today, migration—not Brexit—is the biggest issue on the agenda for the EU 27. Migration is roiling European politics again. Angela Merkel’s coalition is threatening to break apart over the issue. While in Italy, the new government is threatening to close its southern border—blocking migrant rescue ships from landing—and open its northern border, encouraging illegal migrants and asylum seekers to head north to Germany and Sweden. So worried is the European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker that he is hosting a mini-summit this Sunday to try and come up with some policies that can ease Merkel’s

The incredible journey

Sweet lovers, Shakespeare reminds us, love the spring. How can they not? All that wonderfully wanton colour, all that sensual fragrancy, all those budding promises of new life. And, lest we forget, all those yummy insects. For birds adore spring as well. Every year, regular as clockwork, hundreds of millions of our feathered friends take flight and head north. To hear their happy birdsong is to know that winter’s lugubrious cloak has lifted and that longer, livelier days lie ahead. No species is more symbolic of the season than the swallow. Before the age of smartphones and calendar apps, we relied on these fork-tailed speedsters to inform us of spring’s

The Norway model: a new approach to immigration and asylum

Germany is this weekend seeing whether or not Angela Merkel will be able to form a government as she deals with the political fallout from her immigration policy. Quite a contrast from Norway, whose Conservative-led coalition recently entered its second term after taking a very different approach to refugees. Last week I met Sylvi Listhaug, who holds a recently-created position: Norway’s Minister for Immigration & Integration. She’s with the Progress Party, the junior partner in coalition. You often read about her being ‘outspoken’ or ‘controversial’ and I was interested to see what kind of radical views she holds. At the end of the interview, I was left wondering if her

Turning rejects into champions – the miracle of Östersund FC

In my Daily Telegraph column today, I write about the incredible story of Östersund football club. It hasn’t quite been picked up in Britain yet, but I suspect it will one day be made into a Moneyball-style film: about how a small-time English coach was hired to move to a small subarctic town in Sweden with a small budget, and assembled a team of misfits on £600-a-week. But his tactics, and his faith in his ability to get the best out of people, saw them not only win the Swedish Cup but they are now taking on the biggest clubs in Europe. So this town, the size of Inverness, a

Migration is complicated. Don’t pretend it’s not | 10 September 2017

I expect you’ve already noticed it, but in case you’ve been living in a cave or an economics faculty for the past ten years, I’ll repeat it. Goods are not like people. Goods only move wherever they are needed. They don’t come laden with an attachment to a homeland or a social network. Your Bosch dishwasher doesn’t pine for its washing-machine mates back in Stuttgart. Your Ikea sofa doesn’t claim benefits. If you buy a Mercedes, you don’t suddenly find two Audis and a Volkswagen turning up on your drive claiming to be close relatives and demanding to live in your garage. So, looked at dispassionately, the principle that the

Do we really want restriction on German immigration?

At my nearest library recently there was an art exhibition featuring the works of local school children on the subject of ‘unity’, with lots of drawings (many of them outstandingly good) emphasising how we’re all the same (and yet diverse) and that what we have in common is far more important than anything that divides us. We are totally, totally united. Because I’m a terrible person, there was once a time when this sort of thing would have caused me to break out in an involuntary sneer – except that this was just after the Manchester bombing and one of the schools involved was my kids’, and it just made

What the papers say: It’s time for some Brexit clarity

Ruth Davidson has called into question the government’s pledge to bring net migration down to the ‘tens of thousands’. The Sun welcomes her comments and says that it is ‘good to hear a senior Tory…talk sense on immigration’. The migration target, according to the paper, is a ‘random, nonsense figure’ and achieving it would probably entail doing damage to the economy. It’s vital, of course, that immigration does come down, given that ‘some communities’ are struggling to cope with the influx of people. This shouldn’t mean doing damage to Britain’s businesses though, and the paper says it is high time for a ‘serious debate’ about the right level. But for

Italy’s patience with the migrant charities is wearing thin

What to do about the charities who send boats to bring asylum seekers to the Italian coast? Save the Children and seven others have been doing this for some time now, to the alarm of the Italian government. It suspects that some NGOs are colluding with the people-traffickers, and undermining attempts by the government to shut down a business that has already led to 2,200 deaths this year alone. Nicholas Farrell looked at this in a recent cover story for The Spectator. The NGOs say they are saving lives – which is of course true. But the question is whether, by helping the people traffickers in the final leg of

The new age of the refugee

After years of estrangement in a foreign land, what can immigrants expect to find on their return home? The remembered warmth and blazing beauty of Jamaica have remained with some British West Indians for over half a century of exile. Yet 100 changes will have occurred since they left. Long brooding over the loss of one’s homeland can exaggerate its charm and sweetness. The first mass immigration to British shores occurred in the late 19th century, when Ashkenazim arrived by the thousand after escaping the pogroms in Tsarist Russia. Many changed their names and even their accents. The trappings of orthodoxy — beards, sidelocks — left them vulnerable to anti-Semitic

Why Priti Patel is wrong about overseas aid and immigration

The Empire for International Development has a tough job justifying its deeply unpopular budget. In recent years, it has made out that development aid will stem the flow of migration. The following line appears in a piece that Priti Patel, the DFID Secretary, writes for the Sunday Telegraph today. We are taking immediate steps to protect our borders and tackle people smuggling. But the only way to resolve this crisis in the long term is to address the root causes. We need to create jobs across Africa and provide its growing population with a route out of poverty where they are. Her overall point – about how Africa needs more capitalism – is brave and

From Italy to Sweden, Europe is dying

In what I promise won’t become a regular feature, I thought it worth issuing an update under the heading ‘I told you so’. It relates to two recent, connected pieces of news. The first comes from Italy where the government is now threatening to close its ports. The ongoing influx of migrants from Africa is once again threatening to overwhelm the country, with almost 13,000 people arriving last weekend alone. Once again the Italians are being made to bear the burden of decisions made at EU-level and exacerbated by activist NGOs. The result is a country once again approaching breaking-point. At the other end of this process comes news from

The public vs the politicians

These are difficult times across Europe. From the endless iterations of the eurozone crisis to the Brexit negotiations beginning in earnest — these and many more challenges will face our continent for years to come. But underneath them all, lies a whole set of other ructions: subterranean events which lead to subterranean public concerns and subterranean public discussions. Foremost among such deep rumblings are the anxieties of the European publics on matters to do with immigration, identity and Islam. These things are closely connected (so closely that I recently put them together in the subtitle of my book, The Strange Death of Europe), but they are unarguably stifled discussions. While

Sweden is divided in the wake of the Stockholm attack

Last Friday, only hours after the terrorist attack in central Stockholm, police found themselves pelted by rocks in the city’s largely immigrant Tensta neighbourhood. The following evening, officers were once again attacked, this time in Hammarkullen in Gothenburg. On Sunday, a familiar story: rioters aimed Molotov cocktails and a fire bomb at police as unrest broke out in the area. In the days following the truck attack, Swedish newspapers had been full of defiant headlines: ‘Stockholm stands united’ and ‘Love conquers all.’ But the subsequent violence put paid to much of that: ‘Unity’ and ‘love’ are, for many Swedes, not the words that spring instantly to mind. Much is still unknown of

Europe should follow Britain’s lead on refugees

When a humanitarian tragedy disappears from our newspapers, there are two possibilities: that the crisis is over and life for survivors is gradually returning to normal — or that the human toll has become so routine as to no longer be considered newsworthy. Sadly, the deaths of migrants from North Africa and the Middle East as they attempt to cross the Mediterranean to seek a new life in Europe fall into the latter category. Eighteen months after the photographs of little Alan Kurdi’s body on a Turkish beach generated a huge swell of public emotion, entire families are still dying on a regular basis. In the first ten weeks of

Saving the children

When a humanitarian tragedy disappears from our newspapers, there are two possibilities: that the crisis is over and life for survivors is gradually returning to normal — or that the human toll has become so routine as to no longer be considered newsworthy. Sadly, the deaths of migrants from North Africa and the Middle East as they attempt to cross the Mediterranean to seek a new life in Europe fall into the latter category. Eighteen months after the photographs of little Alan Kurdi’s body on a Turkish beach generated a huge swell of public emotion, entire families are still dying on a regular basis. In the first ten weeks of

Bear essentials

In Yoko Tawada’s surreal and beguiling novel we meet three bears: mother, daughter and grandson. But there will be no porridge or bed-testing here: these are bears with a difference. Tawada has form in animal-linked fiction: The Bridegroom Was a Dog won a major Japanese award. Writing in Japanese and German, she is a prizewinner in both countries. This three-part novel, felicitously translated from the German by Susan Bernofsky, draws us deep into the lives of her ursine trio. Transcending anthropomorphism, her beasts retain their essential ‘bear-ness’ in the human world. Mama bear, an ex-performer in a Moscow circus, is savvy, opinionated and scatty: ‘I hate making small talk about

What the papers say: Could free movement from the EU end next month?

‘Take back control’ was the mantra of the Brexit bunch during the referendum – but eight months on, Britain is still waiting to be handed the keys. Next month, says the Daily Telegraph, part of the wait could be over. The paper reports that Theresa May is planning to announce an end to free movement for EU migrants when she triggers Article 50 in March. If this is true, we should celebrate the Prime Minister’s decisiveness, the paper says, hailing the plan as both legal – given that it ‘will only take effect after Brexit’ – and ‘sensible’ – to avoid a rush of migrants coming to Britain before the door slams shut.

Brexit isn’t to blame for the Polish exodus

I guess the hate crime epidemic that gripped Britain after Brexit hasn’t put that many people off, with new figures showing net migration of 273,000 in the three months to September 2016. That represents a decline of 49,000, of which 12,000 is due to an increase in eastern Europeans heading home (39,000, as opposed to 27,000 the previous year), which I imagine is less to do with any hostile atmosphere in Britain than the booming economy in Poland. No doubt that’s the way it will be presented, though – ‘Poles fleeing the Brexit terror’. In my view, the Government is doing a lot of things wrong at the moment, chiefly