I know I’ve written this stuff several times in this column, but it bears repetition after the events of the last few weeks in the Channel, the Mediterranean and indeed, off the coast of West Africa.
I receive a large and often intemperate correspondence about the traffic of small dinghies across the Channel. I share the frustration of my correspondents as we wade through the treacle of the courts process to get the Rwanda deal up and running (which, I believe is essential to break the business model of the gangs that profit from Channel Crossing).
Equally, we watch with incredulity at the slow pace at which alternative accommodation is identified for migrants, in order to try and save the millions of pounds daily that it is costing in hotel bills. Every time a new location, or a berth for a barge is identified, a parliamentary colleague will be leading a campaign to try and ensure that it doesn’t end up in that constituency. (I wonder if all those people who wrote to me to oppose the housing development at former RAF Sopley, realise the close shave they may have had)
Nevertheless, Some of my correspondents really do need to get a better sense of proportion. A constituent wrote to me last week saying that all that his father’s generation had sacrificed on the battlefields in WW2 had been a waste given the current flood of illegal migrants. I told him that the his statement was grotesque and that he should reflect on the dreadful magnitude of how things would have turned out had the efforts of that generation really been in vain.
Of course, the Government must redouble its efforts to get a grip on what is happening on our own shores. But as it does so it is worth recalling that the opposition parties have no answers beyond offering ‘safe and legal routes’ to UK by those currently trying to get here illegally by dinghy. The reality is that we have already made generous provision for refugees to resettle here and our ability to be even more generous is utterly overwhelmed by the illegal trade across the Channel. In any event, no matter how many legal routes are offered, those who don’t qualify will continue to try their luck in a dinghy unless we can stop them, because the demand to come here is limitless.
France is struggling to secure its border with Italy, as Italy and Greece wrestle to halt the flow across the Mediterranean. Indeed, every European jurisdiction is trying to fix their own migrant problem as the EU itself cannot get agreement from its member states on a common approach.
Beyond, Europe the problem is so much greater. Pakistan is host to millions of refugees from Afghanistan, as Turkey and the countries surrounding Syria host millions of Syrian refugees.
The states of Central America see a continuous flow northward to try a penetrate the borders of the USA. I could go on.
The fix that we find for our problem to halt the flow to the shores of the UK will ultimately be as temporary as Donald Trump’s wall, unless the rich developed world return with urgency to the task of improving the economic prospects of millions of people in wretched poor and war-torn countries. Until that happens, people are going to continue to risk everything to get here.