Rwanda Flight of Fantasy

The government’s proposal to fly some of the Channel migrants to Rwanda has generated a lot of scaremongering media reports as well as the entirely predictable scandalised opposition from the usual suspects.  But what are the facts?  The first thing that should be understood is that this is an improvement on the previous idea of having an overseas assessment facility.  What is now being put forward is a resettlement plan: migrants would get a one-way ticket with no option of returning to the UK, whether they are genuine asylum-seekers or not.  This is perfectly fair and reasonable.  A genuine asylum-seeker wants to live in safety.  This is a perfectly natural desire, and this is precisely what is being offered to them: a safe life in Rwanda.  So the first objection to this plan – that it is cruel and breaches our legal and moral obligation to help people fleeing persecution – can clearly be seen to be nonsense. 

But these migrants don’t want to live in Rwanda; they want to live in Britain‘, say those opposed to this plan.  The answer to this is very simple: nobody has the right to pick and choose in which country they want to live.  Not you, not I, and not these migrants.  If you or I want to go and live in another country, we have to apply for a visa, and whether or not this is granted is entirely up to the country concerned.  We don’t have the right to just turn up and demand they accept us.  So why should these Channel migrants be treated any differently?  ‘Because‘, say the pro-migrant lobbyists, ‘they are not ordinary migrants, they are fleeing persecution and war, they are desperate‘.  Err, no, they aren’t though, are they?  Not one is coming from a war-torn country.  Not one is escaping persecution.  Not one is fleeing from danger.  They are all coming from France.  Yes, that’s right, they are all coming from a beautiful country where we all go on holiday, with great food and wine, an independent police and judiciary, democracy and a very high standard of living.  That is the reason that I contend that not one is a genuine asylum-seeker; they are all economic migrants. 

Ah, but they are genuine refugees,’ say the pro-migrant lobbyists smugly, ‘as two-thirds of those who arrive are either granted asylum by the Home Office or allowed to remain in the UK on humanitarian grounds‘.  This statistic is correct but meaningless, as what it proves is not that these are genuine refugees but that their applications are being wrongly assessed by the Home Office – famously described by the Labour Home Secretary John Reid as being “not fit for purpose”.  The point is that these migrants are assessed on the basis of their allegations – no proof required! – and on the basis of their country of origin, not the country they have actually come from – France. A recent opinion poll showed that 61% of British people agree that those who pass through safe countries to come to the UK should not be granted asylum.  If Britain were a genuine democracy, the wishes of the people would be followed by the government.  In any case, if they really are genuine refugees, then they should – as I have already explained – be happy to be offered a new and safe life in Rwanda. 

The government is racist and just trying to stop all immigration‘, whine the Left, but actually, the truth is the exact opposite.  Boris Johnson is well-known for his extreme liberal views on immigration and has repeatedly floated the idea of an amnesty for all illegal immigrants.  Boris’s government has been described (by his own supporters) as “the most immigration-friendly government in recent history”, and no wonder: he opened the doors to some 3 million Hong Kong citizens to come here (with all their dependents too), he intends to resettle 20,000 Afghans in the UK, there is no longer any annual limit on semi-skilled work permits, qualification requirements and the salary threshold has been lowered, and the obligation to first advertise jobs in Britain has been dropped.  And now, of course, we are also welcoming refugees from Ukraine. As a result of all this, non-EU migration is (not surprisingly) at record levels. 

Good,’ say the pro-immigration lobby. ‘Immigration benefits the economy‘.  Well, up to a point, Lord Copper.  The ‘immigration-is-good-for-the-economy’ argument only holds if you focus solely on national GDP.  Of course, it’s true that more people equals a higher GDP – but so does more crime, and nobody is surely arguing for that!  The statistic that really matters is GDP per capita, and the fact is that while skilled migrants will indeed increase this, unskilled migrants do not. And virtually all the asylum-seekers we are receiving unfortunately fall into the latter category rather than the former. 

But Britain is a wealthy country, and we should take our share of refugees.  Other countries in Europe take more than us, so we should create easier routes for asylum-seekers to come here legally‘, is the final, desperate argument of the Left.  But this ignores what is probably the most important fact of all: Britain is already grossly overcrowded.  We are one of the most densely populated countries in the world.  Those who compare the number of refugees that we take with other European countries should also compare population densities.  And the fact is that for the UK to have the same population density as Italy, for instance, we would need to cut our population by 20 million; to get to France’s population density, we would need to cut the number of people living here by 30 million, and to get to Spain’s we would need to cut this by 50 million! 

The simple truth, and the most crucial point in this debate, is that Britain is full.  That is why we are having to concrete over more and more green land each year to build more homes, even building on known flood plains, simply because we are so desperate for more houses for our ever-growing population.  That’s why our roads are so congested, hospital waiting times are so long, GP surgeries, dentists, and schools are over-subscribed, and the police can’t cope with the growing crime rate. Those who argue for a more liberal asylum system should be asked one simple question: what do they believe is the right population for a country the size of Britain? Covid showed the fragility of international supply chains. Given that Britain is already unable to feed the people here now, it is madness to increase the population even further and build more houses on farmland. 

So is the government’s Rwanda plan the right solution?  In theory, yes, but in practice, I’m afraid there are a number of fatal problems.  Firstly, it only applies to single men, so of course, they will all say they are married with weeping brides and sickly children in their home countries, and as there is no way of checking this, the courts will believe them.  Also, as part of our agreement with Rwanda, we will take “vulnerable refugees” from that country!  But the biggest and most insoluble problem of all is that this scheme is open to interminable legal challenges on ‘human rights’ grounds.  The government has been told many times that Britain will never be able to control its borders – as promised during the Brexit referendum – until we leave the European Court of Human Rights and amend (or better still, scrap) our domestic Human Rights Act. 

Human rights claims prevent the Home Office from deporting dangerous foreign criminals, so I have zero confidence that they will be able to deport ‘desperate’ asylum-seekers.  This is especially true since the proposal is to allow those who are slated for removal five days’ notice, during which they will be able to get legal help and make representations to stay here.  If the government were serious about deporting these people, they would not give them time to block their removal, so I believe they know this will never happen, and this policy is just a cynical ruse designed to deceive the gullible into voting Conservative.  The government has form for this sort of duplicity.  Remember their declaration that boats would be pushed back in the Channel?  It turns out that they had secretly decided not to go ahead with this long before they finally admitted it in court and even lied to parliament that this was “absolutely still policy” – when it absolutely wasn’t! So will Boris’s flights to Rwanda ever get off the ground? Or is this another fantasy, like so many before, that will be dropped as soon as it’s done its job of increasing the Conservative poll ratings? Time will tell, I suppose, but my advice would be: don’t get your hopes up!

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