ON TREATING PEOPLE PROPERLY

The British and French governments have shamefully connived since the opening of the Channel Tunnel to prevent asylum seekers reaching Britain, where they could claim asylum on arrival. Seekers of Sanctuary have the right under international law to seek asylum. This is not a right governments should be taking from them. And they should certainly not be creating a market for people smuggling.

We do not know how many people have been smuggled across the Channel. We do know from two local stories on BBC Kent, https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-kent-52167277 and https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-kent-52418254, that 53 people on 4th April 2020 had been intercepted by Border Force and handed over to immigration, and that Border Force had taken 76 to Dover on 24th April. The second report adds that in April Border Force had intercepted more than 450 people, while https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2020/may/10/charities-call-for-safe-routes-for-migrants-to-claim-asylum-in-uk totals 853 from 23rd March to 10th May.

We do not know what happened to these people. There is nothing to say that some of them were not immediately deported. The Home Office should allow them to apply for asylum, process their applications properly, and, if granted asylum, support them in integrating into British society and making a positive contribution to our country.

In the middle of a global pandemic, the World Health Organisation recommendation of testing for the virus and tracing all contacts applies to the British but also to new arrivals. Simply monitoring their health is not enough. Are the authorities protecting our health at the ports and treating any who prove to have the virus? Are they ensuring all new arrivals can keep social distance at all times? Are they ensuring all are registered for health care?

Rather than patrolling the Channel to keep people out, the British authorities should make the smugglers redundant by creating Safer Routes for Refugees into the UK. This would mean allowing seekers for sanctuary to apply for asylum at the first UK Border post they reached, including those outside the UK. Not having to declare their ultimate destination might make it easier for them to leave their country of origin, without risking destitution or death to get here. So no jungle. Due process in all cases. Certainty that proper health checks are carried out. The opportunity to contribute to Britain by working here. This is what Liberal Democratic Britain would look like.