A 17-year-old boy has been kicked out of college for tweeting his support of the U.K. government’s new immigration policy seeking to deport those who arrive illegally into the country to the African nation of Rwanda for processing.
Leo Shepherd, a former student at Burnley College in Lancashire, U.K., was reportedly refused permission to continue with his second year of studies because of his implied support of the Home Office’s latest strategy in dealing with the increasing level of illegal migration being experienced on England’s southern coast.
In the offending tweet, published on June 12, Shepherd commented on a story from the left-wing Mirror newspaper, in which a prospective asylum seeker was quoted as asking for “a chance for a life,” to which he replied: “That life can be had in the beautiful country of Rwanda, which has much nicer weather than the U.K.”
On June 15, Shepherd further tweeted his disapproval of the European Court of Human Rights’ decision to grant last-minute injunctions to a number of applicants claiming that their deportation from the U.K. would infringe upon their human rights, a judgment which effectively temporarily overturned decisions made by Britain’s domestic courts.
“The ECHR blocking the Rwanda plan is utterly ridiculous, a court from across the Channel should not have any right to hinder our elected government,” the former student tweeted.
Days later on June 20, Shepherd revealed that Burnley College had contacted him and refused to take him on for a second year because he “made some tweets they didn’t like about Rwanda.”
“That is the state of Modern Britain,” he added.
The news resulted in an outpouring of support on social media from conservatives who offered advice to the 17-year-old, including from Toby Young, the director of the Free Speech Union, a U.K.-based organization that advocates freedom of speech and offers assistance to those under threat of modern-day cancel culture.
Speaking to the Disrupt YouTube channel, Shepherd explained “there had been a witch hunt led by a group of fellow students” who frequently sent his tweets to a WhatsApp group chat and forwarded them to college staff.
On the broader topic of being a young conservative in the U.K. education system, Shepherd told the channel, “It’s always been pretty difficult, but I found until recently, most people, although they disagreed with me, they were open to my views. Now, I’m in quite a lot of heat.”
Shepherd revealed he had been brought up with conservative values and joined the Conservative party in 2019 to support the current U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Asked what his advice would be to fellow young conservatives who perhaps had their own reservations about voicing their opinion on the political debate, the 17-year-old said: “I wish I could tell them to just brave it, but in this world, it’s very dangerous and difficult to do so. It shouldn’t be, and there needs to be change.
“There are many stories like mine, many people who are ostracized and have had their lives destroyed by the institutions in our country just because they have an opinion people don’t like. It’s an awful state of affairs.”
Shepherd explained he had met with a solicitor to discuss his predicament and was currently on a “fact-finding mission, filing Freedom of Information requests” in order to view the complaints that had been made.
“We’ll see where we can go from there,” he added.