‘Stab a sorry heart with your favorite finger
Paint the whole world blue
And stop your tears from stinging.’ 

Unintentionally, this  has become a follow-onto ‘Stabbed in the Back’. 

The Nazi’s made this conspiracy theory an integral part of their official history of the 1920s, portraying the Weimar Republic as the work of the ‘November criminals‘ who had ‘stabbed the nation in the back’ in order to seize power. This enabled them to make scapegoats of Marxists, and ‘cultural Bolsheviks’, and Jewish people with tragic consequences 

If you’re baking the populist cake you need three main ingredients: 

  • An economic mess and hardship [✓] 
  • Stab-in-the-back [✓] 
  • Scapegoats [✓] 

This is precisely what Herr Hitler used to seduce the German people into his web of evil. Today we these same ingredients – make of that what you will. 

This week our own government has been accused of ‘extinguishing the right to seek refugee protection in the UK’ by the United Nations refugee agency after proposing a contentious new law to stop small boats from crossing the Channel. 

‘Suella Braverman, admitted that the illegal migration bill was ‘more than 50%’ likely to break human rights laws’

The Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, admitted that the illegal migration bill was ‘more than 50%’ likely to break human rights laws The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (‘UNHCR’), in an unusually critical statement said: 

The legislation, if passed, would amount to an asylum ban – extinguishing the right to seek refugee protection in the United Kingdom for those who arrive irregularly, no matter how genuine and compelling their claim may be. 

‘The effect of the bill [in this form] would be to deny protection to many asylum seekers in need of safety and protection, and even deny them the opportunity to put forward their case. 

‘This would be a clear breach of the refugee convention and would undermine a longstanding, humanitarian tradition of which the British people are rightly proud.’ 

Lest we forget this was why the UN was created: ‘The United Nations is an international organization founded in 1945 after the Second World War by 51 countries committed to maintaining international peace and security, developing friendly relations among nations and promoting social progress, better living standards and human rights.’ (1) 

The proposed law is designed to allow the government the legal duty to detain and deport nearly all those who arrive ‘irregularly’, such as via small boats in the Channel. Furthermore, it constrains the rights of asylum seekers to use a judicial review to challenge decisions, allowing ministers to bypass the legal wrangles that have prevented the implementation of plans to send people to Rwanda. 

In addition, there will be an annual cap (to be decided by parliament) on the number of refugees the UK will offer sanctuary to through safe and legal routes – but only once the boats have been stopped. 

The new law proposes that everyone who arrives in the UK via an irregular route will be detained for 28-days. The plan proposes to detain them in two converted former RAF base in Essex and Lincolnshire, however there are doubts that this will be sufficient. 

‘would undermine a longstanding, humanitarian tradition of which the British people are rightly proud’

For example, in 2022,  20,446 people were detained, official statistics show that 47% were detained for <7 days. According to estimates by the Refugee Council, our current detention capacity is only C. 2,286. 

Cost is another factor; it is calculated to cost C. £120 to detain someone for 1-day, detaining 65,000 people for 28 days would cost £219m a year, plus the cost of building more detention centres. 

After detention the refugees will be ‘removed’ to their own country or a ‘safe third country’ if that’s not possible.  

Half of the people who crossed the channel last year came from Afghanistan, Eritrea, Iran, Sudan or Syria. At least 80% of asylum claims from those countries are currently granted. For Afghanistan, Eritrea and Syria the figure is 98%. 

The current plan is to send the majority to Rwanda, should that proposal overcome the challenges being pursued though the courts, even then only 200 people p.a. will be offshored there. ‘Return’ deals with France or the EU are out as a result of Brexit. 

Where this all goes wrong is if the people can’t be removed. Looking at current statistics, of the 12,286 times the Home Office has tried to deem a claim inadmissible through that process, they’ve only been able to establish inadmissibility 83 times, or 0.7%. 

If 65,000 people were to cross the channel once this new legislation was in place and all their claims were deemed inadmissible, that could mean 455 people would be removed, leaving 64,545 people stuck in limbo – unable to be removed, their asylum claims not being processed in the UK, unable to work or access support.  

The government are pinning their hopes on aggression proving an immediate deterrent to those  crossing the Channel. 

‘The government are pinning their hopes on aggression proving an immediate deterrent to those  crossing the Channel’

A key to the proposal success is sidestepping the European Commission for Human Rights (‘ECHR’) rulings, which stopped previous deportations to Rwanda.  

Whether can simply sidestep the parts we don’t like in the ECHR or have to leave it, is open to debate. Either way the usual bunch of hard-right loonies such as former leader Iain Duncan Smith former minister, Simon Clarke, Mark Francois and Bill Cash all applauded the move. 

The ECHR was founded after WW2 to protect people from state power. The only other European nations not signed up are Belarus and Russia – which has been expelled because of the invasion of Ukraine. 

If we take this course of action then, like Russia, we could risk expulsion, making us, in effect, a rogue state. If so, it will be interesting to see what President Biden makes of our actions. 

Despite the bill possible being incompatible with international law, the government appears determined to proceed. 

Alexander Horne, a former parliamentary lawyer, said, ‘So it will then go to Strasbourg because you’ve exhausted your domestic remedies and you’re effectively giving quite strong signalling to Strasbourg saying read the convention in this way or if you don’t, tonight, you’re setting up a conflict with the UK.’ 

Others suggest that the government is seeking to create a confrontation with ‘lefty lawyers’ and Strasbourg, who they will then blame for failure to implement the measures. Horne said it was highly unlikely to be on the statute books before the next election. ‘If you ask me, and this isn’t a legal opinion, it’s entirely a sort of political view, he [Rishi Sunak] is doing this to generate headlines. I think the government thinks that banging on about Strasbourg is a new version of banging on about Europe.’ 

In addition to breaching UN and European laws, there is also the Geneva conventions, which most countries of the world are signatories to. 

‘In addition to breaching UN and European laws, there is also the Geneva conventions, which most countries of the world are signatories to’

Between January 2021 and September 2022, while 20,600 asylum cases were considered for an inadmissibility decision, just 83 of them were declared inadmissible, and only 21 people were removed from the UK. The reason why more were not declared inadmissible was because they qualify to have their claims considered in the UK under international law, that of the Geneva conventions   

France, with 112,860 asylum applications last year and Germany, with 164,925 – many more than the UK’s 74,751 –have focused on clearing their respective backlogs. Whilst the Home Office has recruited extra caseworkers, in 2022 there was still a backlog of 160,919 cases. Where a decision was made last year, 75% were granted refugee status or humanitarian protection, with around 50% of those who appealed after an initial refusal succeeding. 

This proposal is just another token gesture, albeit a nasty one. Sunak is just throwing raw meat to the masses, in the hope of convincing them that the government is doing something. In truth, it feels like a proposal designed to catch headlines, rather than actually dealing with the problem. It’s tough talking about proposals that are unlikely to make the statute book based on numbers which don’t add up. 

‘Sunak is just throwing raw meat to the masses, in the hope of convincing them that the government is doing something’

The last word goes to Enver Solomon, the chief executive of The Refugee Council, who said the plans ‘shatter the UK’s longstanding commitment under the UN convention to give people a fair hearing regardless of the path they have taken to reach our shores. 

The government’s flawed legislation will not stop the boats but result in tens of thousands locked up in detention at huge cost, permanently in limbo and being treated as criminals simply for seeking refuge. 

It’s unworkable, costly and won’t stop the boats.’ 

‘Somewhere, somehow, somebody 
Must have kicked you around some 
Who knows, maybe you were kidnapped’ 




Since I saw the steam rising following the boy Lineacre’s tweet, I’ve been waiting for Philip’s piece to hit my inbox with great expectations; his punchy piece devoted to immigration and the refugee crisis, certainly doesn’t disappoint.

And as the rhetoric on both sides of the ‘argument’ reaches fever pitch, it feels as though somebody needs to call a metaphorical ‘time-out’ and question whether we have finally lost our conkers.

How many people struggling to pay their energy bills, watching the cost of their weekly shop rocket, facing an interminable wait to see a GP and trying to keep a roof over their heads, see the small boats as the no1 issue facing this once great nation?

The answer is very few; but what the nasty party has realised is that to some with a penchant for flat caps and whippets, or with a whiff of lavender oil and Werthers Originals, this is where the next general election kicks off in earnest; and it’s a real Hackney Marshes, Sunday league bruiser.

With Boris having been dropped after scoring too many own goals, and heading for the soup-in-a-basket after dinner speaking circuit, Philip raises the uncomfortably plausible prospect of Suella Braverman becoming leader after the Tories lose on fixed penalty notices.  

And in one-in-all-in style, Tory MPs are flying in to give Mr Lineker a sizeable portion of shoe pie; he in return seems determined to stay in the fight – with the confidence that 8.7m Twitter followers brings.

This one could go to extra time, and the BBC could be the big loser; how impartial can it claim to be when Gaza’s tweets about human rights in Qatar received no sanction, yet those regarding an immigration policy that is almost certainly in breach of international law, are ruled offside.

Then, how about the fact that if your granny refuses to renew her licence in protest at the BBC’s suppression of free speech, she could face porridge for breakfast, whilst Richard Sharp sticks with the quails’ eggs having lavishly charged Boris’ trough. If it looks like a duck…and all that. So what was Philip thinking?:

Never, in my wildest nightmares, did I believe that a UK government would set itself against international law. This puts us into “rogue territory” status alongside Iran and Putin’s Russia.

Once, being “British” stood for something, doing the right thing. This government is trashing our reputation.  

Britain did not sign up to either the 1951 United Nations refugee convention by accident, and we willingly joined the European convention on human rights, cooperating with the Strasbourg court that enforces the convention.

We were architects of both, designed to lay solid foundations of European cooperation for the establishment of a peaceful democratic order after WW2, Churchill was a leading advocate of the projects.

A cornerstone of democracy is freedom of speech which, in this country, now appears to exclude anything the government doesn’t approve of.

This column stands 100% behind Gary Linaker and his comments about the government’s cruel policies.

“This is just an immeasurably cruel policy directed at the most vulnerable people in language that is not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the 30s, and I’m out of order?”

The governments criticism of him only serves to prove his point; the government is behaving like Nazi Germany.

Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair’s former press secretary, said Lineker was “pointing out the kind of facts the BBC should be pointing out relentlessly about the scale of a problem being exploited for populist polarising reasons”.

The former Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis tweeted: “Curious that @GaryLineker was free to raise questions about Qatar’s human rights record – with the blessing of the BBC – over the World Cup, but cannot raise questions of human rights in this country if it involves criticism of government policy.”

The BBC seems set to compete with GB News as the Tory’s ass-licker.

Lineker’s claim that the UK takes “far fewer refugees” than other European countries is correct. Data from the House of Commons library confirms that the UK ranks 16th when compared with the 27 EU countries for the number of asylum claims granted in 2021 after accounting for population sizes.

The government is all about posturing and looking tough, like most bullies, there is no substance. With a general election likely next year, Sunak needs to be seen to be doing something about the crossings, which aggravate an old public anxiety about open borders.

Brexit was supposed to deliver control of our borders. It failed, not because leaving the EU had no impact. Other than ending the free movement of labour from the EU. But fear of uncontrolled immigration remains, and cynical politicians are always happy to play on the fear factor. Suella Braverman is one example, relishing the use of deliberately incendiary rhetoric to ramp up public anxiety, warning that “billions” are going to cause an “invasion”.

This is not practical policy but a campaign with a dual purpose. If it doesn’t get the Conservatives re-elected, it might bolster Braverman’s position in the leadership contest after a defeat. Mr Sunak’s endorsement of the strategy suggests that he, too, thinks Britain has had enough of human rights; that they are an obsolete hangover from the mid-20th century.

If Tory MPs don’t like being compared to fascists they should stop behaving like them. As to the people who vote for them, remember this; you fought a war to stop racial persecution!  

Lyrically, we start with “Seven Seas” by Echo and the Bunnymen, and play out with Tom Petty’s “Refugee”. Enjoy!



Philip Gilbert 2Philip Gilbert is a city-based corporate financier, and former investment banker.

Philip is a great believer in meritocracy, and in the belief that if you want something enough you can make it happen. These beliefs were formed in his formative years, of the late 1970s and 80s

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