Right then. First things first, I am furious. On Thursday, the UK Government announced that it had agreed to a deal that would send asylum seekers attempting to cross the English Channel to Rwanda. The move has already been criticised by the UN refugee agency and various NGOs on the grounds that it breaks the Geneva Convention and asylum law concerning illegal border crossings. The Geneva Convention makes clear that those who cross the border illegally when fleeing life-threatening situations, should not be penalised or turned away. Whatever your stance on asylum seekers, this looks like another ‘out of sight, out of mind’ approach from the government.

A Hostile Environment

In Britain, there is a long history of doing the bare minimum to appease those with a social conscience. As we have seen, when it comes to rescuing asylum seekers from war zones such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and most recently Ukraine, the government seems determined to put up significant barriers between desperate people and safety.

Whilst other countries have been taking in refugees without question or form-filling, Britain has resolutely held to the pillars of bureaucracy. The convolutions in the case of Ukraine have meant that people who wanted to come to the UK, whether to reunite with family or simply to begin rebuilding their lives, have had to travel to centres that have been so poorly advertised or obscured that refugees cannot access the services they need.

This rampant xenophobia has long been a cornerstone of British immigration policy, stemming from the tenure of Theresa May’s Home Office, and the inception of the Hostile Environment policy. This policy had severe ramifications for society. As the Conservatives chased votes lost to parties on the far-right, it was clear that migration was a scapegoat to distract from a litany of failures their other policies had unleashed on Britain.

Similar policies of ‘offshoring‘ have been used in Australia for years, with dubious outcomes and a high rate of successful appeals. Now that Britain is following the same route, it is reasonable to assume that a similar fate will befall the policy here. Costs aside, the idea of sending already vulnerable people to detention centres is arguably a complete moral failure.

Patel’s Wager

On Monday, Home Secretary Priti Patel has thrown down the gauntlet to her critics over the Rwanda offshoring deal, suggesting they come up with a better idea if they so thoroughly disapprove. In this spirit, I would like to offer the Home Secretary my advice.

Firstly, resign. It is obvious, even amongst the dangerous, amoral, criminal cohort presently in charge of the country, that Patel’s track record makes her especially unsuitable to hold office in any capacity. Her history in the May government, culminating in her being forced to resign in 2017 over unsanctioned meetings with Israeli politicians, serves as a prescient reminder of her lack of transparency.

Secondly, we need a comprehensive re-evaluation of Britain’s immigration system. Not just for refugees, but for everyone. Streamline the visa application process and cut the cost. People coming to Britain to be reunited with their families should not be viewed as cash cows. Presently, it costs EU individuals £3000 (legal fees excluded) every 30 months to maintain their visa. While the minimum income requirement for non-EEA family members is a hefty £18,600 per year. This, along with the lack of recourse to public funds, which has been in place since 1999, makes the UK one of the least welcoming nations for migrants.

Thirdly, there is a pressing need to rebuild. By taxing the super-rich, we could invest heavily in infrastructure that has been almost entirely abandoned in the decade of austerity the UK has suffered under the Conservatives. Schools, hospitals, housing, roads, public transport, essentially any service pressured by a dwindling amount of public funding could be resuscitated dramatically. The nonsensical argument of ‘we’re only a small island, and we’re full’, collapses under the weakest of inspections. What is needed is efficiency and proper resource allocation. As well as this, a Universal Basic Income will ensure there is a safety net for when the cost of living (such as now) becomes so high that it starts to threaten people with poverty.

What Can We Do?

So, Ms Patel, I know that after step one, you will no longer figure in the implementation of a bold, brave, and entirely contrary to your philosophy solution. But I hope that it serves as a reminder that there is always another way.

The easiest way to show opposition to this latest policy horror is to write to your MP, urging them to stridently defend the rights of migrants and refugees. But a more potent and simpler method is to use your voice and vote.

The United Kingdom has a raft of local elections coming up on May 5. Use your democratic rights to send a clear message that this is not how things should be done.

DISCLAIMER: The articles on our website are not endorsed by, or the opinions of Shout Out UK (SOUK), but exclusively the views of the author.