The Blob versus The People? Amid the hysteria on Channel migrants, ALEXANDER DOWNER and SARAH VINE give their advice to Rishi Sunak on how to tackle a mounting problem
We faced the same crisis in Australia — and fixed it. If Rishi has the courage to do the same, he could win the next election, writes ALEXANDER DOWNER
Tackling Britain’s migrant crisis means answering one simple question. Who do you want to control immigration policy: the Government or people smugglers?
It is as basic as that. If Britain is not to be at the mercy of criminal gangs, firm action is needed.
I know, because 26 years ago, when I became Australia’s foreign minister, we faced the same crisis. And we fixed it.
It was tough: we needed a policy that was unbending yet humane. But it proved popular with voters. They too wanted immigration controlled fairly and firmly.
If Rishi Sunak’s government can learn from our experience, they could turn the polls around and reap the benefits at the next General Election.
Tackling Britain’s migrant crisis means answering one simple question. Who do you want to control immigration policy: the Government or people smugglers? It is as basic as that. If Britain is not to be at the mercy of criminal gangs, firm action is needed
Daily Mail readers do not need me to tell them Britain’s borders are out of control. In the past 20 years, Office for National Statistics figures show uncapped immigration has seen the UK population rise by 9 million to more than 67 million — a 15 per cent increase in less than a generation. So far this year, criminal gangs have brought 40,000 people across the Channel in boats. That’s five times the number in 2020 — and this is set to hit 50,000 by 2023.
Illegal immigration is placing huge pressure on almost every aspect of British life. The NHS, housing, social services, schools and the police are struggling to cope. Everyone suffers, except for organised criminals who have a limitless opportunity to make money.
Clearly, this is an astonishingly lucrative business. You can expect the number of Channel asylum seekers to increase exponentially unless the Government gets a grip.
So what did we do in Australia? In our well-run immigration programme, new visas are capped at 160,000 annually, with our population of about 26 million.
This brings us a managed influx of skilled workers, plus people with money to invest in our country and others who are joining their families (usually people who have married Australian residents).
We also have a humane quota for resettling genuine refugees: about 20,000 each year.
Once all the visas are allocated, that’s it. Anyone caught trying to break the rules is permanently denied entry.
When these rules came in, people smugglers tried their damnedest to break them. We had to be tough and vigilant.
Illegal immigration is placing huge pressure on almost every aspect of British life. The NHS, housing, social services, schools and the police are struggling to cope. Everyone suffers, except for organised criminals who have a limitless opportunity to make money. Migrants are seen being brought into Dover via Lifeboat last week
That did not mean turning back boats (except rarely). That would not have been safe.Instead, when illegal immigrants arrived on Australian shores, we put them on a ship and sent them to another country — the island of Nauru in the Pacific Ocean.
This stopped illegal immigration stone dead. The gangs quickly found they couldn’t make money, as they were unable to guarantee entry into Australia to their ‘clients’.
Let’s compare that to Britain’s unsustainable, uncapped and frankly chaotic policy. There’s no doubt many businesses benefit from a skilled, willing migrant workforce.
But that’s a world away from allowing people ashore in huge numbers, to be put up in hotels at a cost to the taxpayer of more than £6 million a day — with some being criminals.
What is stopping Britain from copying the Australian model? Former Home Secretary Priti Patel tried to send migrants to Rwanda while applications were processed.
But that bold idea was thwarted by political opponents, many within her own party, who protested it was unthinkable. They’re wrong. I know from experience in government it does work well.
It is not racist or barbaric or any of those inflammatory terms thrown by people who offer no alternatives. It’s safe, civilised and sensible.
To anyone opposing the Rwanda plan, I ask: how many more migrants should Britain take? If nine million is workable, why not 19 million, 90 million? Where does it stop?
Current Home Secretary Suella Braverman has used emphatic language to describe the problem, calling it ‘an invasion on our southern coast’.
And she has been pilloried. This happened in Australia, when one politician talked about ‘a swarm of migrants’.
To listen to the BBC, anyone might assume, foremost in people’s minds is the need to avoid strong language, rather than flinging open Britain’s borders to a social crisis.
Confected outrage about the words we use is a deliberate distraction. The real outrage should be reserved for the damage done to people’s lives as hospitals and schools groan under the strain of uncontrolled immigration.
Australia had one big advantage. Unlike the UK, we have not signed the European Convention of Human Rights [ECHR]. This has enabled political opponents to stymie the Government’s efforts to send migrants to Rwanda.
After Brexit, Britain needs to find a lasting legal basis for exemption from European Court of Human Rights diktats. The nation has to be free to control its own borders.
Exiting the ECHR should be a last resort. Britain could draw up its own human rights legislation, but it could set a dangerous precedent for other countries to ditch their commitment to human rights.
Instead, the UK must find a legal way to bypass 11th-hour interventions from Strasbourg, and restart Rwanda flights.
This would be popular with Conservative voters and Red Wall supporters. Ordinary Brits — not the chattering classes — whose taxes keep the country running, have no illusions about the problem of uncontrolled immigration.
Voters want to see bold action from politicians to keep this country’s essential services safe. If Labour and some in her own party keep attacking Suella Braverman for trying to solve the crisis, voters will remember and won’t forgive.
And if the Tories have the courage to fix immigration, this could be the single most important vote-winning issue, right across the country.
Alexander Downer was Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, 1996-2007.
Suella’s brave enough to admit how serious this is — that’s why the BBC, Twitter and her own civil servants are coming for her, writes SARAH VINE
Note to Rishi Sunak: every successful Prime Minister needs a bad cop — someone who makes them look saintly by comparison; someone who doesn’t particularly mind if they’re on no one’s Christmas card list, and who can assume responsibility for the less salubrious aspects of government.
Margaret Thatcher had Norman Tebbit; David Cameron had my former husband, Michael Gove, who did lots of difficult but necessary work for him on education, and was unceremoniously fired for his pains.
Boris Johnson had his adviser Dominic Cummings, who turned out not so much to be bad cop as mad cop.
Doesn’t matter: point is, there are always those tricky problems in government that can’t easily be solved without upsetting an awful lot of people. And for that you need a real tough nut.
Illegal immigration is one such problem, and Suella Braverman is one of the few Cabinet nuts tough enough to acknowledge it and to tackle it head on.
If I were the PM, I would let her do her job. Because, quite honestly, who else is going to take that kind of flak? Suella Braverman is that rarest of politicians, someone who speaks as she finds, writes Sarah Vine
Which is why, of course, the whole world is coming for her.
There’s all of team Truss; several former Johnson acolytes; Priti Patel’s allies; and, inevitably, one of her own ministers, Robert Jenrick, who’s clearly eyeing a promotion if she gets fired. And that’s just in her own party.
Throw in His Majesty’s Opposition, the BBC, the entire population of North London and Twitter users — not to mention the boatloads of civil servants flouting their own codes of conduct by leaking to the media because they’ve decided their views are morally superior — and it’s a wonder the poor woman can even get out of bed in the morning.
She faces some of the most complex challenges of our times: how to stop desperate people risking life and limb at the hands of people traffickers to reach Britain’s shores; how to separate real refugees from ruthless opportunists; and how to ensure a fair and functioning immigration system.
She’s also dealing with the racist attacks of the Left, who believe that anyone of her ethnicity who does not espouse their cause is a traitor.
She has to cope, too, with a Conservative Party that’s still fighting like rats in a sack — and a Home Office which has not been remotely fit for purpose for a very long time.
As for the stuff about her emails . . . all I can say is: ‘Oh, get off your high horses.’
Braverman says she sent work documents to her personal email account so that she could join in virtual meetings outside the office. ‘It was not possible to use a single device to conduct the meetings and read the documents at the same time,’ she explained.
Yes, it was wrong, but for an understandable — even laudable — reason, and she has apologised. Time to move on.
Illegal immigration is one such problem, and Suella Braverman is one of the few Cabinet nuts tough enough to acknowledge it and to tackle it head on
If I were Sunak, I’d think very carefully before cutting her loose. She has become a lightning rod, and Prime Ministers need lightning rods.
I would ignore all the pearl-clutching at her use of so-called ‘inflammatory’ language — her description of the soaring numbers disembarking on the coast of East Kent as an ‘invasion’.
If I were the PM, I would let her do her job. Because, quite honestly, who else is going to take that kind of flak?
Suella Braverman is that rarest of politicians, someone who speaks as she finds.
And the truth is that beyond the bubble of Westminster, beyond the rarefied salons of those whose privilege affords them the right to judge others, her words resonate. We’re in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis where working families who pay their taxes can’t afford to heat their homes, run their cars or feed their children properly.
Given this state of affairs, the fact that the Home Office has not only wasted millions paying the French to fail to stop the small boat crossings, but is also splurging £6.8 million per day — PER DAY — accommodating migrants in four-star hotels, is simply not acceptable.
What about those British citizens who’ve been priced out of the rental market, or whose mortgages have shot up, or who are fleeing domestic violence, or battling ill-health or dementia or disability. Where’s their paid-for accommodation? Why does it feel as though they are somehow always the last in line?
Of course, that’s not really the case. Nothing is ever so straightforward. But that is the problem with letting something like this spiral out of control: people get angry and resentful. They feel marginalised and let down. They become paranoid.
What they’re thinking may not be right or even rational, but it’s what they believe. And history teaches us that such sentiments can turn very nasty.
That is why it’s the duty of government to make sure the system works — and why it’s so important that they fix it.
In truth, none of this is Braverman’s fault. She’s been in the job for only five minutes.
This mess is the culmination of years of government incompetence at the hands of successive Home Secretaries, each of whom has tried — and failed — to tackle the problem.
And it is because the real obstacle here is no single individual but the department itself — the Home Office.
It is a department that, with the possible exception of Education, has come to epitomise the so-called Blob: that amorphous, all-consuming mass of sticky inertia that ensures no amount of reforming zeal or intelligent policy thinking can prevent the second-rate status quo from staying stolidly, stubbornly, in place.
How many political careers have perished in its bloated, slobbering Jabba the Hutt-like jaws?
The only Home Secretary in recent years who emerged from that place remotely unscathed was Theresa May, and that was largely because she had two highly skilled political Rottweilers — Fiona Hill and Nick Timothy — by her side at all times.
Whether or not Braverman is capable of succeeding where so many before her have failed, and galvanising her necrotic department, is not yet clear.
If it were down to sheer guts alone, she’d have more than a fighting chance.
But it will take brains as well as brawn to defeat the Blob.
The prevailing narrative — bandied about by Braverman’s many enemies — is that she is none too clever and can’t make up her mind about anything.
But she went to the world-renowned Sorbonne university in Paris and to Cambridge; she speaks French and did a pupillage to become a barrister. She’s achieved far more than many of her detractors.
And I don’t know about you, but the woman who stood at the dispatch box on Monday seemed like a pretty sharp cookie to me.
This is a complex, thorny mess which, if left unresolved, will only get worse.
And while the Conservatives, as a party, certainly can’t afford that — nor can the country. Because nothing fosters bigotry and resentment, nothing fans the flames of division more than people thinking they’re being taken for a ride.
It’s clear now that the Government has no choice but to bite this particular bullet.
Since Braverman seems willing to get her teeth into it, why not let her have a go? She will either succeed or (metaphorically) die trying. Neither outcome will disadvantage the Prime Minister.
Source: Read Full Article