Rishi Sunak's 'Stop the Boats' rhetoric is as empty as Donald Trump's 'Build the Wall'. Isolationism won't make Britain great again – Scotsman comment

The UK’s growth forecasts are built on assumptions of high levels of net migration

Fresh from delivering a well-received sermon at King Charles’ coronation, in which he stressed the need to ensure “the poor and oppressed are freed from the chains of injustice”, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, launched a stinging attack on the UK Government’s Illegal Migration Bill.

If passed into law, the Bill would introduce a legal requirement on the Home Secretary to detain people arriving in the UK through unofficial means, such as small boats, and send them to Rwanda or another ‘safe’ country.

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The Archbishop told the Lords that the “isolationist” Bill “ignores the reality that migration must be engaged with at source, as well as in the Channel, as if we as a country were unrelated to the rest of the world”. It was also “morally unacceptable and politically impractical to let the poorest countries deal with the [migration] crisis alone and cut our international aid”.

He cited forecasts that climate change, which threatens to make some parts of the world uninhabitable, could lead to 800 million more refugees by 2050. Faced with this situation, the UK was introducing a law that the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has warned “could lead to the collapse of the international system that protects refugees”, he added. “Of course we cannot take everyone, and nor should we, but this Bill has no sense at all of the long-term and global nature of the challenge the world faces.”

Like Donald Trump’s “Build the Wall”, Rishi Sunak’s “Stop the Boats” slogan is an empty one. While years of austerity and the cost-of-living crisis have made many people reluctant to welcome new arrivals, reducing migration is no solution to our troubles. And it may make things worse.

After the recent UK Budget, Social Market Foundation director James Kirkup noted that growth forecasts are built on assumptions of high levels of net migration, adding, “sadly, many politicians who are happy to bank the economic benefits of migration lack the courage to talk honestly to the public about those economic benefits”, and instead stoke fears about Channel crossings.

Trump-style isolationism may appeal to some with an outdated, almost mercantilist view of economics but it will inevitably diminish the UK, economically and morally, and leave it in a weaker position to deal with whatever problems our increasingly turbulent world throws up.



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