However, according to Louise London’s book, Whitehall And The Jews, 1933-1948, there is evidence that about 500,000 people were turned away. “The process… was designed to keep out large numbers of European Jews,” London wrote, a judgment that should be a source of abiding shame. How many of those people perished in the Holocaust? How many innocent lives could have been saved?
It is a lesson of history the UK Government seems determined to ignore. With much nationalistic bluster about how “the British people are famously a fair and patient people”, Home Secretary Suella Braverman announced the Illegal Migration Bill, saying it would prevent anyone arriving in the UK “illegally” from claiming asylum. “Let’s be honest,” she told the Commons, “by some counts, there are 100 million people around the world who could qualify for protection under our current laws. And let’s be clear: they are coming here.”
No, they aren’t, and this ridiculous, factually incorrect claim is reminiscent of Nigel Farage’s suggestion that the population of Turkey would move to Britain if it stayed in the EU. The fact Braverman’s introduced the idea with “let’s be honest” adds insult to injury. The Home Secretary was also unable to say whether the Bill was actually legal, in a throwback to Boris Johnson’s law-breaking habits.
Even Braverman’s description of “illegal” migrants conflicts with figures showing about two-thirds of people crossing the Channel are granted asylum. A Refugee Council analysis found 48 per cent were from Afghanistan, Iran, Eritrea, Sudan or Syria, with 80 per cent of people from these countries being recognised by the UK as genuine refugees. It’s not illegal to claim asylum.
The reason why these people are risking their lives in small boats is that it is so difficult to claim asylum any other way. If concern for their safety was the motive behind these measures, the government would have first established safe, legal routes and return agreements with other countries before introducing anything like this Bill’s Draconian measures.
By turning its back on the victims of brutal, oppressive regimes, as it has done before, the UK is callously ignoring its duty to humanity. How many lives will be lost as a result?