25 November 2021, The Tablet

A cruel and illogical law

The Nationality and Borders Bill


Boris Johnson’s premiership is having a rough time. Not the least of the reasons is the way his government has apparently lost control of immigration. This issue alone could prove to be his undoing. The famous Brexit slogan “Take Back Control” on which he rode to power was widely taken to refer to the ending of the open borders that European Union membership had imposed on the United Kingdom. It was part of a general perception that many more immigrants were arriving than the country could absorb. But now daily news bulletins from the south coast of England show a constant stream of overloaded rubber dinghies unloading their human cargo, the vast majority of whom, once on British soil, claim asylum as refugees from persecution.

While the UK was in the EU, those whose claims had been rejected could be sent back to the last member-country they passed through. Post-Brexit, there is no such agreement. In turning back boats, furthermore, the UK has to rely on co-operation from the French authorities, who are, post-Brexit, a lot less friendly. This is the bed Johnson himself has made, and he must lie on it.

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