'Tories' cheap headline grabbing tricks on Channel crisis lack British compassion'

Hassan Akkad, an English teacher from Damascus, Syria who stood up to the regime, was imprisoned twice, beaten, finally forced to flee. His journey took 87 days

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson attends a media briefing on the latest Covid-19 update in the Downing Street briefing room, central London on November 27, 2021. - Britain will require all arriving passengers to isolate until they can show a negative PCR test against Covid-19, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Saturday after the new Omicron strain emerged. (Photo by Hollie Adams / POOL / AFP) (Photo by HOLLIE ADAMS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Don’t fall for Boris Johnson’s cheap tricks over asylum

You just need to look at the plans Whitehall is drawing up to tackle the migrant crisis to work out what is going on.

Machines, Border Force jet skis to turn back boats, offshore processing centres, custom-built reception centres for ­thousands, and bans on people who cross illegally. None of these things are ­practical. Most, under international law, are illegal.

The Government knows this, yet it persists with these cheap headline grabbing measures, ­ignoring that most asylum claims are legitimate and upheld.

Take Hassan Akkad, an English teacher from Damascus, Syria, who stood up to the regime, was imprisoned twice, beaten, finally forced to flee.

Hassan’s journey took 87 days. Arriving in Turkey, he boarded an overcrowded boat to Greece and ­jumped overboard to stop it capsizing. It finally sank – a boat full of children, university professors, teachers. All trying to escape. All desperate. Many died.

Hassan finally made it to the UK on a fake passport. When he got permission to remain here, he ­worked for the NHS through the pandemic. There are millions of stories like Hassan’s. Remember that as the debate around immigration heats up again.

This is a floundering, populist government adept at using cheap tricks to shore up its standing. Don’t fall for them. As the argument rages, ­remember that these are some of the most desperate, vulnerable people in the world.

The Government should ensure asylum seekers can be brought here safely, processed quickly and fairly, and housed securely. We should treat these frightened and desperate human beings with the quality Britons have but our government lacks: compassion.

No need for panic

The news that a new variant of Covid has emerged is, of course, worrying to hear.

But as Professor Chris Whitty said there is all kinds of uncertainty around the new mutation and it’s important not to panic.

We don’t know how dangerous it is yet but what we do know is there are ways to mitigate it.

That means we must follow the rules even if the PM can’t. So wear a mask, get a ­vaccine, get another vaccine, get a booster. And get ready for Christmas.


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