Tory immigration policy – a fools errand

I’ve joked before about how the Tories would put up a wall in the channel if they could, well they’d ain’t far away from that now (why is it that things I say in jest increasingly tend to become policy?). A few months back Farage went around visiting hotel’s being used to accommodate migrants during the Covid outbreak (the home office is obliged by law to provide accommodation to asylum seekers, indeed it may be breaking those laws given the conditions in some detention centres). Would Farage rather they wander around the streets during a pandemic? Is he afraid they might escape and paddle back to France? This set off a wave of panic among Tory ministers, most notably Priti racist Patel.

This prompted desperate proposals and outlandish ideas that are so farcical that it borders on satire. They have for example proposed setting up wave machines in the channel to make crossings harder (practically impossible really and you are talking about deliberately trying to drown desperate people), floating walls (you do know this is one the world’s busiest shipping lanes?), nets to clog propellers (and what happens if a fishing trawler runs into the same nets? Or are the Tories assuming we won’t be doing much of that in a few months time!) or shipping migrants off to a volcanic Island in the South Atlantic (which would be extremely expensive to tax payers and won’t really change anything).

Such lunacy can be explained by the reality that I’ve been long warning about, brexit far from reducing immigration to the UK could actually make things worse. For example right now we can return migrants to the EU under certain circumstances, but post-brexit this will be a lot harder, if not impossible.

And this is just for openers. The migrants don’t seem to have figured out yet that they are better off going to Jersey and the channel islands rather than the longer more dangerous direct crossing to the UK (this mirrors events in the Mediterranean and Aegean, where rather than making a direct crossing, the migrants instead aimed for Greek or Italian held Islands or just waited in their territorial waters to be picked up).

So it might be a good time to review how the Tories got themselves into this mess. Farage, a failed trader, has been crap at everything he touched. But he hit upon a formula whereby if he says nasty things about foreigners and the EU, he could get elected to the EU parliament (where he did absolutely no work whatsoever), collect a salary as well as some donations from suitably racist billionaires and shady hedge funds looking to profit from the disruptions his policies could cause.

In the 2014 local & EU elections UKIP got 27% of the vote and 13% in the 2015 general election (but no seats). This unsettled the Tories. They could have had a frank discussion with the populace about how all the myths about immigration are all lies and racist bigotry (this has pretty much been the SNP’s policy in Scotland). Explain that immigration is a normal part of any developed economy and besides brexit won’t help anyway. But instead Cameron decided to ignore all that and have an EU referendum.

Now Cameron was probably assuming the majority of the senior party members would back remain, you’d be left with only a few headbangers backing leave. But, of course anyone with ambitions to be leader, particularly if they otherwise lacked the skills and competence to be a leader, would have to back leave to get the party bigot brigade faithful on their side. And that’s pretty much what happened.

So now they have to brexit. And they’d promised a very soft one during the referendum, indeed any talk of a hard brexit was dismissed as project fear. But of course the problem with a soft brexit is it would run the risk of Farage etal claiming, oh that’s not the brexit we campaigned for. And so they pushed for the most extreme ultra brexit they could. Although its possible the risk of economic mayhem might make them accept a deal (drafted by Brussels) at the last minute, it doesn’t really matter. No form of brexit was ever going to satisfy the brexiters. It was a fantasy ploy intended to further the careers of certain small minded bigots, it was never a serious proposal.

So now they, having screwed over the economy for no good reason, it looks like Farage is back and looking to establish an anti-immigrant party. And hence the Tories are desperately trying to figure out how can they out-UKIP UKIP. Well, if the last 5 years hasn’t made it clear, allow me to clarify you can’t. You could turn the UK into North Korea and they’d still find something to complain about. Besides, walls and barriers (for trade or otherwise) don’t work, if they did the USSR would still exist and no country would do trade deals with its neighbours.

So what Priti racist Patel’s desperate ploy’s should highlight, is that brexit was a doomed exercise from the start. Instead the Tories should have confronted the racists in their own party and driven them out. Few if any of the brexit promises made will be realised. It is really just a question as to whether or not it can be reversed before the UK breaks up under the strain of it….so maybe the best way of deterring migrants might be to just give them a copy of the Guardian and offer them a free ride back to France.

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