WHAT do the son of an Ethiopian refugee and the daughter of Ugandan refugees have in common?
Well, anyone would agree they would be well placed to understand the importance of a fair and robust asylum system — and the sensitivities around the issue.
But perhaps more surprisingly, they can also, in today’s world, hold some of the highest positions in European governments.
Witness the stories of Denmark’s Minister for Immigration and Integration, Mattias Tesfaye, and of our own Home Secretary, Priti Patel.
Now, something else they have in common is a no-nonsense approach to tackling the criminal enterprise of people smuggling.
They may be about to join forces as Ms Patel opens talks with Denmark over sharing an offshore immigration processing centre for asylum seekers in Africa.
Denmark recently announced they plan a series of offshore centres outside the European Union, to reduce the flow of asylum seekers into their nation.
For her part, to crack down on illegal migrant crossings, Ms Patel is set to introduce laws next week via a Nationality and Borders Bill that would allow the Government to send asylum seekers arriving here to a processing centre abroad.
She hopes this will discourage migrants from making the perilous journey from France across the Channel.
More importantly, she aims to hit hard the criminal gangs monetising the misery of migrants and profiteering from their pain.
HUGE VOTER SUPPORT
One thing is clear — the current approach to tackling the scourge of people smuggling is not working and the numbers show this.
Already this year, the number of migrants crossing the Channel is well above 5,000, more than double the figure at this time last year.
Most British people are concerned — and are right to be.
Attempts to partner with EU nations have been futile.
The Government has not been able to deport at least 1,500 migrants whose asylum claims have been refused, because France will not accept them.
Kent County Council’s director of children’s services says the council is at “breaking point” with the numbers of unaccompanied minors arriving on the Dover coast.
This is a problem Ms Patel has promised to solve by distributing child migrants more evenly across the country’s local authority areas.
But while her tough stance against illegal migration enjoys huge voter support — six in ten thinking it fair, and just two in ten not — critics continue to try to thwart her efforts.
My question to those critics is: To what end?
The biggest losers of a soft policy against illegal immigration are migrants themselves — not least genuine asylum seekers.
Hundreds of migrants have died trying to cross the Channel.
A few months ago, a whole family including children aged nine, six and 15 months met the most dismal of ends as their boat capsized between France and England.
Then there are those who come by other routes, like the 39 Vietnamese migrants who suffocated in the back of a lorry from Belgium in 2019 while trying to enter the UK.
People smugglers, who make huge profits, must see this country as a laughing stock.
They mercilessly herd people into rubber dinghies knowing full well the perils.
All they are interested in is the cash — who cares if it costs the occasional body of a baby washing up on a beach?
Only a fool could think Ms Patel is the villain of this horror plot.
Only a fool could think the situation doesn’t now call for drastic action.
Those who suggest France is not really a safe country — and there is a legitimate case for risking life and limb to flee the country — are either being daft, disingenuous or delusional.
It’s about time we suck it up and clamp down once and for all on the people smugglers.
We need to send a clear message that Britain will only be a pit stop, not a home, for those who come here illegally.
If that means winding up in a processing centre in a less desirable location, so be it.
That’s why I believe that we should take Ms Patel’s idea seriously.
You do not have to agree with Denmark’s absolutist, “zero asylum-seekers” ambition to think the idea worth considering.
Yes, the offshore processing of migrants is controversial.
But mark my words, leaving this growing problem unresolved will only increase animosity toward immigrants and diminish sympathy for genuine asylum seekers.
Most tragically, it will cause even greater loss of life in the Channel.
Racism? I just want to switch off
I’VE NEVER cared to watch Love Island – until this year.
Whether it’s because of negative racial stereotypes or just out of habit, I don’t know.
On Monday, for my sins, I decided to give it a go.
It didn’t take me long to start feeling like I was losing brain cells by the minute.
I do appreciate that Love Island is a cultural phenomenon with an audience of millions.
I suspect part of its appeal is that it’s a nice break from all the draining cultural issues we have to deal with, not least culture wars.
But, alas, avoiding woke culture wars on Love Island was wishful thinking. Within just one episode, people were pointing out that a black contestant, Kaz Kamwi, got picked last in the “coupling” ceremony, as she was partnered with Toby Aromolaran.
That Love Island highlights the racism in dating.
I don’t dismiss the idea completely.
Yes, inter-racial couples are increasingly normal, and the mixed-race population is the fastest-growing in Britain, so I’m not too worried about racism in dating.
But I do think people still generally feel more comfy dating within their own race.
Whether it’s because of stereotypes, or something much more innocuous, I don’t know.
But it would explain why black women couple with black men on the show, Asian with Asian and white with white.
Either way, the last thing I want to do when I’m trying to wind down by watching vacuous people parading in undies is talk about racism.
Why wasn't George in his England shirt?
I KNOW very little about football, but I was on the edge of my seat watching the England-Germany game on Tuesday afternoon.
I was so proud of the boys and had a tear in my eye as the final whistle blew.
I was emotional because it was an historic victory and I secretly enjoy sticking it to the other European nations, in true Brexiteer fashion.
But also it warmed my heart to see our future King, Prince William, and future Queen consort Kate, with their eldest child Prince George cheering along with the rest of the crowd.
I mean, I’m not sure about bringing your kid to a football match dressed in a suit and tie.
I would’ve liked to see George in a mini England football shirt.
But seeing the poshest, most privileged family in the land cheering as a Jamaican-born lad who was raised in poverty by his widowed mum, and once excluded from school for bad behaviour, scored our opening goal made me proud of “the beautiful game” and to be English.
So, let’s stop banging on about footballers taking the knee and remember that football’s real power is in uniting us.
Stop trans kids
THE Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust – which runs the UK’s only gender identity development service for kids – is fighting a High Court ruling.
The ruling said under-16s with gender dysphoria – or desire to be another sex – can only consent to use of “puberty-blockers” if they understand the “immediate and long-term consequences”.
The case was brought by Keira Bell who transitioned from girl to boy, at age 16, after she was given puberty-blockers by the Trust, in North West London.
She later regretted it, detransitioned and believes she was too young to make that original decision.
The Trust is claiming kids with gender dysphoria should be allowed to opt for the drugs.
Keira and many others say it will be a dark day if the High Court’s ruling is overturned.
The number of people who changed gender and later regretted it is growing.
We used to let kids be kids
If they were in a tomboy or girly phase, we just waited to see what came next – or accepted it.
Now some medical professionals want to endorse puberty-blockers and, when it all goes wrong, just say: “Oh well.”
I’m not against people transitioning.
Letting trans adults live their lives in peace is fitting for a civil society.
But pumping puberty-blockers into children is an abdication of responsibility.
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