Wrapped in a conspicuous concern for refugees and misplaced anger diverted towards smugglers, Britain has unveiled plans to fly illegal migrants crossing the English Channel from France to the African country of Rwanda.
The plans announced on Thursday by U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson will mean that thousands of economic migrants arriving by small boats from the French shores will be met by members of the British armed forces as they arrive, and escorted to purpose-built facilities, from which, within a week, they will be flown to Rwanda. At least that is the plan.
There are no accidents in British politics, and the timing of the announcement is not one either. Just a day after Boris Johnson and his staffers had to pay their fines over breaking Covid-19 quarantine rules, better known as party-gate, he is trying to eliminate the root causes that caused the scandal in the first place. Those who think that a strong and popular British prime minister’s seat could be shaken by a ten minute appearance at a quarantine-breaking party during lock-down, do not understand British politics. The fact that the party-gate was allowed to snowball, and be exploited by the opposition to a point where it is now endangering the position of the prime minister, is only a sign that Johnson has already been weakened by several of his unpopular or unsuccessful policy decisions.
Chief among these was one of the strongest original social drivers for Brexit, that is, controlling the U.K.’s national borders and stemming illegal immigration. Johnson has been an abject failure in this regard, and worse of all, he has made Britain look weak in facing a cynical French president who is exploiting the Channel migrants to put political and economic pressure on Britain in a number of areas, most notably Northern Ireland. Crime, Islamic radicalism, ballooning energy and food prices in Britain have all been eroding confidence in Johnson to the point where the seemingly previously unelectable Labour Party now enjoys a 6 percent lead over his Conservatives in the polls.
The government had enjoyed a measured surge in popularity due to its resolute stance against the Russian invasion, but they have managed to muddle even this by showing that as oiled as the British system is in “dispersing” large amounts of illegal entries from third-world countries, it is impotent when faced with a stream of genuine war-refugees standing at Britain’s borders peacefully, and asking for protection.
The deal with Rwanda to accept illegal migrants entering Britain is a major achievement from the government, but given the fact that the government is in the stranglehold of a pro-migration civil service, liberal newspapers and broadcasters dominating the media landscape, the all pervasive human rights lobby and NGOs, no one is holding their breath in expectation that this solution could put an end to illegal mass migration and help to remove millions of illegal migrants already residing in Britain.
However, one should give credit where credit is due, namely to possibly the only genuinely conservative member Boris Johnson’s cabinet, Home Secretary Priti Patel. It is thanks to her long running efforts that the left-tilting Conservatives have been won over to the plans to process asylum application in third-country processing centers. She has also managed to convince the Rwandan government to allow migrants removed from Britain to settle in their own territories. This won’t be for free, of course, Rwanda will reportedly receive £120 million as a first payment, but even that is small change compared to Britain’s annual £1.5 billion bill for asylum seekers. The UK government will encourage those deported to Rwanda to settle in the country, but suffice to say, even government officials are aware of the fact that this option is more of a deterrent for those considering the illegal journey to Britain, rather than an attractive option for a better life in a country, where the annual income is around $780.
The plan will still need to be approved by the House of Lords populated by overwhelmingly left-wing peers who have already cast doubt over their willingness to vote for Patel’s plan for outside detention centers, which some of them have deemed “immoral.” Furthermore, according to The Times, the rule will only apply to male migrants.
As expected, Labour are opposing the decision, with Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary calling the proposal “shameful.”
“It is an unworkable, unethical and extortionate policy that would cost the UK taxpayer billions of pounds during a cost of living crisis and would make it harder not easier to get fast and fair asylum decisions,” added Cooper.
Unsurprisingly the U.N., which has in the past decade transformed from an international body for upholding human right and the rule of law into an irregular migration and open society lobby group, is also against such a solution, saying that the “UNHCR does not support the externalization of asylum states” obligations. This includes measures taken by states to transfer asylum seekers and refugees to other countries, with insufficient safeguards to protect their rights, or where this leads to the shifting rather than the sharing of responsibilities to protect refugees.