Tough new anti-immigrants scheme sparks national rumpus

A demonstrator is temporarily detained by police during an anti-immigration protest march in Dover

A demonstrator is temporarily detained by police during an anti-immigration protest march in Dover on the southeast coast of England, on March 4, 2023, as pro-and anti-migrant demonstrations take place in the town. 

Photo credit: AFP

It is a problem that makes a lot of British people uneasy, one they do not like to talk about because it takes them into areas of morality and principle where they would rather not be.

It is the problem of would-be immigrants who are arriving in this country by the thousands, mostly crossing the English Channel from France in small and often unseaworthy boats.

They come from Afghanistan, Albania, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Bangladesh, Eritrea, Sudan and elsewhere, part of a global flight of people from war, oppression, economic injustice and unemployment in their own countries.

Official figures say 45,728 people crossed the Channel to Britain in 2022, some 60 per cent more than in 2021. Sky News says more than 47,000 have arrived by that method already this year.

These are the sort of numbers that frighten many Britons, those fearful for their jobs or uneasy about foreigners living near them, or plain racists who want all immigrants banned, especially if they are brown or black.

Wider perspective 

It is a fair guess that not many of these people are aware of a wider perspective on the problem, and that this movement does not impact Britain alone. UK authorities last year received 74,751 asylum applications, but this placed Britain only fifth in a list of such nations, behind Germany, France, Spain and Austria.

Last year, the government unveiled a plan to fly failed asylum-seekers to Rwanda, but the idea failed due to legal challenges. Now, declaring that “enough is enough”, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has produced a new scheme to tackle illegal immigration.

His five-point plan provides for a force known as a “small boats command” to police the Channel, stepped-up raids on suspected people smugglers, an end to the use of hotels to house asylum seekers, more case workers, and an agreement that Albania, by far the biggest provider of migrants, be deemed a safe country.

In short, the plan bars asylum claims by anyone reaching the country by unauthorised means and compels the government to detain and deport such people “to their home country or a safe third country”.

BBC sports broadcaster 

The legislation was condemned by the United Nations, refugee groups, MPs, including some members of Sunak’s own Conservative party, and, importantly as it turned out, by a leading BBC sports broadcaster and former England football international, Gary Lineker.

A tweet from Lineker described the plan as “immeasurably cruel” and called the government’s language “not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the ‘30s”.

Although Lineker is a freelance, not a BBC employee, the national broadcaster saw this as a breach of its impartiality rules and suspended him from presenting the popular Saturday night TV programme, Match of the Day. This resulted in a mass walkout by other BBC sports journalists and pundits.

After three days of Page One headlines and sports shows reduced to skeletons, the BBC brought Lineker back into the fold, pending a reassessment of its policies.

Lineker described the experience as “surreal”, but showed no signs of stopping his use of social media. He tweeted that “however difficult the last few days have been, it doesn’t compare to having to flee your home from persecution or war to seek refuge in a land far away”.

In Parliament a day later, the Bill providing for the tough new measures passed its First Reading.

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As crimes go, it was as cheeky as they come – A burglar broke into a woman’s house and started selling off the contents!

Leonie Chater smashed a kitchen window, discovered the owner’s birth certificate and used that as proof of ownership.

Half-way through the caper, however, the householder returned from a shopping trip and spotted her TV set, fridge, freezer, washing machine and dryer in the back of a removals van. 

Chater, 32, fled the scene with £120 she had been paid for the items.

She was captured later, however, and at Newcastle Crown Court, pleaded guilty to burglary and fraud. With a record of 41 previous convictions, she was jailed for 30 months.

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Ever had a problem with noisy neighbours? Here’s how a householder in Swansea, Wales, got his revenge on girl students next door who played rap music day and night.

According to Councillor Allan Jeffery, the man placed loudspeakers against their adjoining wall then played music from Gustav Holst Planet Suite on a loop while he went away for the weekend.

“It solved the problem,” Councillor Jeffery said. “The girls stopped playing rap.”

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More thoughts on music, from musicians, critics and comedians:

What’s the difference between a conductor and God? God doesn’t think he is a conductor.

Last night at Carnegie Hall, comedian Jack Benny played Mendelssohn. Mendelssohn lost.

A gentleman is someone who knows how to play the banjo and doesn’t.

The last time I sang in a church choir, 200 people changed their religion.