No smirking matter this time
So whenever alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson or his coterie of variously untalented ministers, or indeed his pals in our free and fearless press, claim that the UK’s problems are somehow the EU’s fault, it is a racing certainty that someone’s pants are well and truly alight. Which brings us to so-called Irregular Migration.
It is a subject to which the increasingly desperate and downmarket Telegraph has returned today, claiming “UK sources claim the European Commission is ‘turning a blind eye to people dying’ by refusing to send migrants who have crossed the channel back to France”. Doesn’t make sense, anonymous sources, but timing is all.
It’s unlikely to be mere coincidence that such evidence-free drivel is published at the same time that Priti Patel, the Benidorm holiday rep Home Secretary, is under fire for allegedly being extremely economical with the Actualité, after she claimed that she was in “active discussions with EU member states on bilateral agreements”.
She specifically mentioned the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and France. But, as the FT has reported, Germany has kept schtum, Belgium said there were no talks taking place, and the other two countries’ representatives claimed this was an issue to be discussed at an EU-wide level. Ms Patel’s department now claims she was misquoted.
The problem she has is that the impression is given that she has made something up without knowing her subject - like not appreciating that this is an issue likely to be dealt with at an EU-wide level, not by individual member states. Perhaps the constant background noise generated by the likes of former Brexit Party Oberscheissenführer Nigel “Thirsty” Farage makes her feel that she has to appear to be doing something.
Her problem is, though, that when the UK left the EU at the end of last year, it also left the Dublin Accords. This removed the means to return some irregular migrants: the Guardian warned last year “EU negotiators have rejected a British request for a migration pact that would allow the government to return asylum seekers to other European countries”.
And the Independent noted earlier this year “In a major blow to Priti Patel’s immigration plans, EU countries have said they will not strike bilateral agreements with Britain to facilitate the deportation of refugees to Europe”. So no chance of returning anyone to safe EU countries they may have passed through on their way to the UK.
Small wonder that the Commons Home Affairs Committee, chaired by the tenacious Yvette Cooper, wants answers. Priti Patel gives every impression of having done next to nothing on the issue of irregular migration. The dishonest intervention of Government mouthpieces like the Telegraph only reinforces that impression, as does the lack of understanding on issues where member states work independently - and where they do not.
Our Home Secretary does not appear to be up to the job. So no change there, then.
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