Priti Patel is set to propose another controversial bill—she’s back at it again—as news leaks about her plans to send asylum seekers to processing centres abroad. Rwanda, Africa being a suspected location of choice. According to an exclusive report from The Times, Patel is set to introduce laws, as early as next week, that would enable the UK government to send asylum seekers to an ‘African hub’ shared with Denmark.
The report suggests that talks have been held by both countries on a potentially shared hub. So far, the Home Office has denied these claims. The Nationality and Borders Bill is however set to follow in Denmark’s footsteps—whose government passed a similar bill just last month. The UK’s Home Office has also reportedly studied Australia’s policy in a bid to replicate its methods, which include redirecting asylum seekers travelling by sea to offshore immigration centres in neighbouring states like Papua New Guinea. The plan has ignited fury as many call Patel’s methods, rightfully, “disgusting.”
The bill will be introduced to the House of Commons next week, with the Shadow Home Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds stating that the plans are “unconscionable” and would be opposed by Labour. Ian Blackford, the SNP’s Westminster group leader, tweeted, “If Priti Patel wants to send asylum seekers to Rwanda she will have a fight on her hands. Not in our name. We treat people with respect and dignity. This is inhumane in the extreme. Where is our humanity?”
Writer and activist Femi had this to say, “Priti Patel says we’re going to start sending scared and desperate refugees to offshore camps where they’ll be outside the reach of the UK’s human rights protections. No. Just no. This doesn’t happen.”
Her moves have even been compared to that of the AfD party—a German alt-right party that heavily pushes for asylum centres in the North Africa region. Wolfgang Blau took to Twitter to say that “it needs to be noted that […] the UK’s Home Secretary Priti Patel is politically congruent with Germany’s far-right AfD party.”
“This Tory Govt is prepared to engage in morally reprehensible behaviour,” Blackford continued. Are we even shocked? This bill follows a long line of anti-immigrant, anti-black and anti-refugee policies set by the Tories—with Patel’s bills being labelled particularly inhumane. The Home Office was rightfully criticised for its new immigration rule, which began 1 January 2021, and would seek to deport rough sleepers who are non-UK nationals as well as for its points-based immigration system announced last year.
Not only is this a cruel reminder of this country’s treatment of asylum seekers, refugees and immigrants in general, it also reminds us of the West’s continuing colonial power in enforcing itself and its problems onto other countries. In all the discussion, does Rwanda get a say in this? I mean, that hasn’t even been spoken about. Treating people like the plastic you dump on other countries is another new low for the UK.
In a surprising move by Ben & Jerry’s, the ice cream giant took to Twitter yesterday, August 11, to publish a series of tweets directed at UK Home Secretary Priti Patel and her inhumane treatment and discourse around immigration. The company began the thread by directly speaking to Patel, tweeting “Hey @PritiPatel we think the real crisis is our lack of humanity for people fleeing war, climate change and torture. We pulled together a thread for you.”
The Twitter thread came after Priti has been called out after it was reported that on Saturday, August 8, the Home Office had asked the defence chiefs to aid them in making the crossing routes into the UK via small and often inflatable boats “unviable.”
Following the viral tweet by the ice cream firm, the Home Office source responded in defence of the Home Secretary, saying that: “Priti is working day and night to bring an end to these small boat crossings, which are facilitated by international criminal gangs and are rightly of serious concern to the British people. If that means upsetting the social media team for a brand of overpriced junk food, then so be it.”
Shortly after, jumping on the defence team of Patel, Foreign Office minister James Cleverly tweeted, “Can I have a large scoop of statistically inaccurate virtue signalling with my grossly overpriced ice cream, please?”
Over the past few days, attention to the dangerous illegal boat crossings into the UK has gained attention across social media following an inhumane and rightly voyeuristic reporting by both BBC and Sky reporters as they were filmed on a boat, filming and reporting on an inflatable boat filled with migrants headed toward the UK coastline.
Criticism of the journalists and their journalistic ethos has been heavy, citing that instead of filming these individuals they should have helped them onto their safer boats and out of dangerous waters. In response, Labour MP Zarah Sultana said, “We should ensure people don’t drown crossing the Channel, not film them as if it were some grotesque reality TV show.” While Stephen Farry, the deputy leader of Northern Ireland’s Alliance party, said it was not ethical journalism. “It is voyeurism and capitalising on misery. Media should be seeking to hold [the Home Office] to account, and the dark forces fuelling this anti-people agenda.”