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Opinion Columnists


Why the UK’s new immigration policy may not work

UK Government has come up with a new policy on refugees crossing the English Channel

‘Stop the boats’: Sunak’s anti-asylum slogan has come under criticism for being too harsh
Image Credit: Reuters

So, the hospitals in the United Kingdom are broken. If you break a bone, for example, all of the follow-up visits are done over the telephone. And how, you may very well ask, can a doctor examine the healing of both ends of a bone over a telephone?

No, I don’t know the answer to that one either. But that’s just the way it is.

Not only are hospitals broken, so too is the care home system. Let’s say that you’re elderly and have broken a bone, such as a hip, an injury that is not uncommon in old folks.

One in four jobs in care homes can’t be filled because of staff shortages, and fewer people are willing to consider it as a career because of the long hours and burden of being understaffed. And because there are no care home beds, people remain in hospitals longer.

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And that means more time waiting in emergency wards, and longer waits for ambulances because those vehicles can’t unload the sick until there’s room in the emergency department. A vicious circle indeed.

One family in three in the UK right now are struggling to pay their energy bills. They face a choice between heating or eating, keeping the power on or putting food on their family’s plates. Sure, it may be a temporary thing because of Ukraine, but try explaining that to a mother with three kids when it’s -2C outside and there’s little in the fridge for the evening meal.

Conservative party's swan song

So, yes. Right now, things are bad in the UK for a lot of people.

But right now, in the eyes of the Conservative party that’s in its swan song in Westminster right now — at the rump end of 13 years in power through the tenures of David Cameron, Theresa May, Boris Johnson, Liz Truss and now Rishi Sunak, the most pressing issue are the small boats of refugees that are taking to the English Channel in a desperate attempt to reach the shores of Great Britain.


Putting it into context, these small boats, in 2022, took 50,000 desperate people fleeing social, economic, humanitarian and political upheaval from any range of stricken nations across Africa or Asia, to Britain. And yet, somehow, these refuges are the greatest risk to the UK’s future.

That, of course, is hogwash. A political storm stirred up by right-wing zealots who thrive on social media or media sales by whipping up hate and xenophobia.

But the fact that the Conservatives are at the rump end of their rule, playing to the right of their support. wins them kudos for taking on “immigrants”. Yes, that great mass of human detritus who dare seek a better life and a future away from war and want.

Targeting the vulnerable

As long as the Conservatives have been in power, they have long targeted the most vulnerable. Yes. But at first, the most vulnerable were those on benefits — and yes, those were targeted by tabloids and tattlers intent on stirring up divisions. That’s why Tory reforms under Cameron limited social welfare payments to just two children.

Brexit too was part of this mindset. You can’t have workers from Eastern Europe undercutting British tradesmen — so shut up shop and close the borders and to hell with the economic consequences. Too bad the social care home workers were part of that clampdown.


And now, this latest policy, announced on Monday by Sunak and his Home Secretary Suella Braverman, is also wrong. Plans to jail anyone who lands in the UK illegally is too harsh.

What’s all the more telling is that Braverman has acknowledged that the new policy is likely illegal and contravenes international law. But, what the heck, headlines are headlines and at least the Government is seeing to be doing something that matters to its key supporters.

The courts in the UK will likely put a stop to this before a single refugee ends up behind bars. The European Convention on Human Rights will also deem such a move illegal.

The EU too says the new measures could nullify Brexit and, yes, that new deal reached last week between Sunak and Brussels over Northern Ireland.

Europe’s intervention either way would prove to Brexit-loving folk that the EU still has too much control in a nation that was supposed to have taken back control of its borders.


Oh! It will take roughly a year for this new policy to be put in place. A year? That’s when there’s a general election due. And how quickly would disgruntled Conservative supporters forget their discontent and rally to the party when courts and conventions would interfere.

This whole thing is hogwash. And the people who need treatment, or making the choice between heating or eating, know it.