On people coming by boat

Today’s news of a boat with people attempting to enter the UK illegally confirms a point made before. The UK government has not done what it takes to make our borders secure. This is not the fault of the EU, indeed it was the French who alerted the British coastguards. The UK has a long coastline. It needs aerial observation and a properly resourced coastguard to police it. For the people smugglers, this is an easier route into the UK than the Channel Tunnel. But the Tunnel is not impossible. We have all seen footage of people clinging to the tops of lorries. No official can check those who get through.

We should be asking ourselves why people are willing to take such risks to get into the UK. Would they do so if they knew they could get a fair official hearing? Earlier in the refugee crisis, the Austrian Foreign Minister said that better legal routes had to be devised to manage the flow of people. By demanding travel documents policed by the airlines, train or ferry companies, the UK is pushing refugees into the arms of the people smugglers.

The UK has committed itself through the UN Geneva Convention to accept refugees fleeing for their lives. It has a proud record of doing so, most recently for the Uganda Asians. To make good on its commitments, the UK should interview all who wish to take refuge in the UK. This could be on arrival, or before leaving our immediate neighbours, or close to the country of origin. The Calais ‘jungle’ only came about because the UK did not have adequate arrangements to process people.

The truth made plain by the latest ‘boat people’ is that borders can never be 100% secure. The authorities must spend what it takes to make it unlikely that the borders can be bypassed. It should then be made as easy as possible for all to come to the official entry points. That way the authorities can determine who is a refugee, who is an economic migrant, and who is qualified to enter by their work skills. Free movement to work within the EU benefits British citizens, and gives another form of entry qualification.

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