Last week I was extolling the efforts of the Prime Minister with his work on the Northern Ireland Protocol. Finally it seems we can put to bed the prospect of this country deliberately setting out to break a signed treaty.
My euphoria didn’t last long nor did Sunak’s outbreak of sanity. Once again we found ourselves abutting international law, this time with what the Conservatives euphemistically call small boats. Everyone else knows them as asylum seekers.
It is not Illegal to seek asylum. Anyone seeking asylum is not an illegal immigrant, yet Sunak plans to make it that anyone arriving in small boats will have done so Illegally and will be subject to rapid deportation to Rwanda for processing and potential permanent residency. Exceptions will be made for unaccompanied children and those with grave illnesses. Such empathy!
The fact that nobody has been deported to Rwanda yet or that the vast majority of asylum seekers applications are upheld does not dampen the ire of the Tories and their supporters. You cannot make asylum seeking illegal depending on the method of transport. Any attempt to do so is against international law and is doomed to failure. Indeed, the Home Secretary, who will be placed under a new legal duty to deport people arriving across the Channel, has admitted that the proposals will “push the boundaries” of international law, whatever that means.
What is it with the Conservatives and human rights? How can they ever be anything but a good thing. I only hope they never have to flee in the face of persecution.
Back to the small boats however. Who is going to define what this means? Presumably it won’t include fishing boats, pleasure craft, the RNLI or lifeboats launched from boats in peril. What size is a small boat? Is its method of construction important? Does where it starts its journey and where it lands matter? Clearly so with the last one.
There are so many questions and only one answer. Those arriving in small boats across the channel account for around 10% of net migration and 100% of the rhetoric. Anyone determined to come into this country will find another way. Perhaps they will arrive in big boats.