politics

'Johnson and Macron need their heads banged together as they squabble after 27 deaths'


All countries must work together towards a solution instead of bickering

Migrants in an overloaded dinghy in the middle of the Channel before they were rescued by Border Force officials
People in an overloaded dinghy in the middle of the Channel before they were rescued by Border Force officials

Sometimes world leaders need to be taken by the scruffs of their necks and have their heads banged together. Even when 27 migrants drown in the Channel, the best Boris Johnson and President Macron can do is squabble over the sending of a letter.

We have not heard anything constructive from either of them that will stop such an appalling tragedy happening again.

This newspaper accepts that there is no quick fix to the migrant crisis. Desperate families fleeing for their lives from oppressive regimes will continue to attempt freezing Channel crossings, no matter how dangerous.

But conflicts around the world mean that up to 70 million people are on the move, so this is a global issue. Our ability to send failed asylum seekers back to the EU country they came from was lost with Brexit. That facility needs to be restored as a matter of urgency.







Migrants are brought ashore by officials after crossing the channel in the middle of the night
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Image:

Stuart Brock/LNP)

That means striking new agreements with individual European countries, and it is to Britain’s shame that we have not done so.

But the EU must play its part too. Brexit is done and dusted. We must all move on because lives depend on it.

Processing asylum claims for Britain in France would deter migrants from using people smugglers. But the French would never wear it because it would make their nation even more of a magnet for refugees.

Yet one country blaming another is pointless. All countries must work together towards a solution. The most successful migrant resettlement programme undertaken by the UK welcomed 20,000 Syrians displaced by the civil war. We provided safe routes by insisting asylum applications could only be made from Middle East refugee camps run humanely and sensitively by the UNHCR.

Something similar is needed now, but with all Western nations shouldering their fair share of the burden.

We appreciate this is not ideal. While it would allow Afghans, Iranians and Iraqis a surer passage to a new life, it would also encourage risky Mediterranean boat crossings from Africa.

That means refugee camps, not just in the Middle East, but north Africa as well.

This is a big ask of the international community. But collective compassion demands common purpose.

And Britain could hold her head high by leading the way.

Heed virus rule

Here we go again. Just when we thought it was the beginning of the end of Covid, Omicron comes along to bite us.

What sounds like a Marvel superhero or an oven cleaner is yet another version of the vicious virus out to destroy our lives. We must not let it. It will be a while before we know whether Omicron can evade existing vaccines.

But we must accept pesky but necessary restrictions now in case it does. We have faced other variants with blood, sweat and tears.

Now let’s put some Mr Muscle into our resolve. And never surrender.

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