The Observer view on Priti Patel’s fake migrant crisis

21 November 2021: Observer editorial: The home secretary fans rhetorical flames on asylum seekers and refugees, but the numbers disagree

[…] Patel gives the impression that there is an escalating crisis in terms of the numbers of people arriving in the UK and trying to illegitimately claim refuge. This is not true. There is absolutely a crisis for asylum seekers trying to reach British shores by making the treacherous Channel crossing in small boats and dinghies. The British government should be doing all it can to clamp down on the people traffickers making a fortune by charging desperate people to attempt the crossing. But the number of people coming to the UK to claim asylum fell by 4% last year and stands at less than half what it was in the early 2000s. Britain receives a fraction of the asylum applications of Germany and France and fewer per resident than the EU average. Low-income countries host nine out of 10 displaced people worldwide.

[…] That has not stopped Patel putting new measures to parliament in the nationality and borders bill. They include the forcible return of boats to France, removing the £38 a week for those who arrive by any other route other than a government settlement scheme, housing asylum seekers in large reception centres, scrapping the appeals system, despite the Home Office’s dire track record on decision-making and offshoring the processing of asylum seekers in the same way that Australia has done, to international condemnation. Many of these measures break international maritime law and the 1951 refugee convention and would be subject to legal challenge. Patel just last week claimed to be negotiating with Albania regarding the offshoring and processing of asylum seekers who are Britain’s responsibility; Albanian government officials have dismissed this as “fake news”.

[…] The world urgently needs renewed moral leadership on asylum and refuge of the sort that led to the creation of the 1951 convention. But we cannot expect it from Priti Patel, who is more interested in using asylum seekers as pawns in the government’s culture war and is thus leading the UK in the charge to the bottom.

Read the whole article here: