It is the drastic measure, and for many shocks, that the government is considering Boris Johnson, through its Minister of the Interior, the “falca” Priti Patel, always very hard on immigration (even from the EU), despite herself being the daughter of refugees.
It all started yesterday, with an article from Financial Times, according to which the Johnson government would have considered, among the various options on the table in the fight against irregular immigration, the possibility of transferring all asylum seekers or migrants awaiting status on Ascension Island, a small and rocky British territory in the Sea South Atlantic.
A drastic solution based on the harsh Australian model or, for example, on the American one until a few decades ago, on the island of Ellis Island. After the shock of the humanitarian associations, the British executive had specified yesterday that it was just one hypothesis among many under consideration.
In reality, there is a rather concrete plan. Downing street itself confirmed this in the last few hours, so that “the government is looking for alternatives to change our policies on illegal immigration and asylum seekers, in order to protect those who end up in the hands of human traffickers”.
The translation of this sibylline language is found in an article in Times today, so the path that Boris Johnson’s government could soon take is to “settle” asylum seekers and migrants awaiting status on large ships, partly former cruise ships, off the British coast. For example, London would be negotiating with Italy the purchase, for over 6 million euros, of a ship built 40 years ago that could accommodate 1,400 people in 141 cabins. While another ship, this time a cruise ship and therefore much larger, currently anchored in Barbados, would cost almost 100 million, would have a thousand cabins and a total capacity of 2417 people.
The use of old ships to relegate migrants awaiting trial on their asylum request seems to be the best solution for Minister Patel. Part of the executive in fact does not agree with the alternative of placing them on the old British oil platforms that have fallen into disuse, while the hypothesis of a mass transfer to a Scottish island would not find the approval of the Prime Minister of Edinburgh. Nicola Sturgeon. There is also thought to transfer migrants awaiting trial to foreign states such as Moldova, Morocco and Papua New Guinea, but there may be legal problems.
This latest hard turn on migrants by the Johnson government comes at a very delicate moment for the premier, with the executive under fire even from part of the conservative party himself for the chaos on the anti Covid rules on which he was confused live tv even Johnson and a management of the pandemic crisis tormented by numerous and serious errors and superficiality, at least at the beginning.
The hard punch on migrants has two main reasons. The first: the growing number of migrant landings from the Channel to the United Kingdom, which has significantly increased in recent months by over 300% compared to 2019, figures that have meant that London took it out on Paris, accused of not doing enough to stop migrants on the French coast.
But, on the part of the Johnson government, there is also a desire to recover the consensus lost in recent months due to Covid which for the first time in almost two years has seen the Labor Party of the new leader Keir Starmer reach conservatives in polls.
Just another poll last night, carried out by YouGov, instead emphasized how the majority of Britons (40% against 35%) are in favor of transferring migrants awaiting status to a distant island, with conservative voters even in favor of 62 %. Not bad, in times of low consensus for the Johnson government.