It has been a difficult week for Sajid Javid, the ambitious Home Secretary who cut short his safari holiday to take command of an over-hyped “major incident” in the English Channel, writes Brian Wilson.
Meanwhile in Birmingham, Mr Javid’s favourite Asian restaurant – which even re-named its signature lamb curry in his honour – was stripped of its licence for employing illegal Bangladeshi immigrants, five of whom ran out the back door when police raided.
It might cause Mr Javid to reflect that immigration is a complicated subject which does not benefit from heavy-handed interventions by publicity-seeking ministers – and that desperate people take extreme measures, no matter the disincentives.
Mr Javid is the son of Pakistani immigrants and should have some sensitivity in these matters. However, ambition is a terrible thing so he feels obliged to enter the auction of bloated rhetoric and undeliverable targets.
Like most such episodes, the threat of Iranian asylum-seekers flooding into Kent has been wildly exaggerated, abetted by Mr Javid’s intervention. There would certainly be more Bangladeshi restaurant workers for him to attend to, though fewer headlines.
Now he has another problem. Whether he likes it or not, the UK has been committed since 1951 to giving asylum-seekers a fair hearing, under international convention. However desirable a photo-opportunity of Sajid turning the tide from the prow of a Navy cutter, it can’t happen. So it’s back to the annoying business of talking to the French and making the best of a mess based on global disruption and human aspirations to which there is no simplistic answer. He should have stayed on holiday and enjoyed a decent South African curry.