And immigration is still dominating headlines because of the rise in the number of small boats and people drowned in the sea. The work of vicious people smuggling gangs and a dramatic increase in the number of Albanian economic migrants (the largest number crossing last year) have played just as big a part. And the root problems that fuelled anger and anguish over freedom of movement — lack of housing, good jobs, crowded, underfunded schools and a cavernous gap between the South and the North — remain.
The divisive language emanating from Home Secretary Suella Braverman and those such as Home Office Minister Robert Jenrick is obviously intended as ammunition for MPs on the doorstep in the Red Wall. On Wednesday, ahead of the Illegal Migration Bill getting its final reading in the House of Commons (it passed by 289 to 230), we heard from Braverman and Jenrick that Channel migrants have values that are at “odds” with British people. Obviously, there wasn’t any data to back this claim up.
We don’t need more inflammatory words coupled with weak action. But the trouble with criticising what the Tories are trying to achieve is that you also need to have an alternative. And we’re not hearing one from Sir Keir Starmer and the Labour Party.
What we do need is compassionate, thoughtful language about successfully integrating those who come here, combined with tough action to stop the people smuggling. I’m certainly not sure the Migration Bill is the answer. But more importantly, we must also foster open and honest dialogue about how much legal immigration and how many refugees we can realistically accommodate, and plan accordingly.
Mass migration is one of the defining characteristics of the 21st century.
How many of you reading this can decide what number of asylum seekers arriving annually in the UK is morally right and economically viable? There is no shortage of the desperate on this planet. We average nine asylum seekers per 10,000 currently, while the EU 27 averages 14 per 10,000 population. And we don’t ignore our humanitarian responsibilities. Last year 154,000 Ukrainians were offered sanctuary, the largest intake of refugees in our history, alongside those from Hong Kong and 21,000 Afghans between 2021 and 2022. Many of those Afghans are still languishing in hotels. And we have a duty to find them homes and help them build new lives.
Personally, I believe we should fight any rogue individual judgments stemming from the ECHR but we don’t want to leave the Convention itself. We must support human rights in our continent, not give others an excuse for ignoring them. The Prime Minister has said if we successfully close illegal routes, such as the small boats, it will allow us to take more refugees by invitation, as we did with the Afghan resettlement scheme. So what number do you think sounds right? The same as the EU? 14 per 10,000? Double that?
It is true that we do not have a safe legal route, given you can only claim asylum status once in the country. If we make it much easier to claim asylum, say on French shores or further afield, numbers applying will rise dramatically. Then what?
I’m not surprised that the Government allowed Tim Loughton MP’s amendment to the Bill, which said local councils had to have a say in the number of legal refugees we will in future invite in. Who can afford what differs around the country. And guess what, the rich and privileged are best at locking the poor out of their backyard.
In the year ending June 2022, long-term immigration into the UK was estimated to be a staggering 1.1 million, an estimated 504,000 more people arriving here than departing according to the Office for National Statistics. This included foreign students (and their families), Ukrainians and vital doctors and nurses we are urgently recruiting from India and African countries to hold up our NHS. There are no easy decisions here.
I don’t have the answers — no one does. But I do know we need to have a more intelligent and honest debate about what next. Justified anger over whatever Suella has just said now will not solve the problem.
Yes, yes, I know by writing about Milf Manor I am only breathing more publicity into this ridiculous show, which is exactly what they want. But seriously, Discovery, are you that desperate for a hit that you feel the need to put ‘Milf’ mothers and their young sons in a large hotel, then get the women to compete for the other female competitors’ offspring to have sex with?
No doubt there will be some fake feminist defence applied, along the lines of it’s not just older men that should freely date younger women without judgment. But first, lots of women already openly date younger men (see Sienna Miller), with no raised eyebrows. And secondly, imagine the uproar if this was Dilf Manor, with older dads competing for another man’s young daughter.
And why, oh why, the porn-like aspects such as blind-folding the women and getting them to identify their own son’s naked torso by touch from a half-naked line-up?
I have an 18-year-old son and I can’t imagine anything that would possibly gross us out more. And no, I won’t be watching.
So Meghan has unveiled a new glossy look and cue the obvious bitching, plus unfair speculation about God-knows-what procedures behind closed doors that she has taken in achieving it.
As one who feels the passing years ever more brutally, I want what she’s having. Lucky her, that she can afford the multi-million pound lifestyle of personal trainers, stylists, a vast luxury wardrobe and an army of beauticians to get there. She looks amazing.