I’d like to wish everyone a safe start to the new term. As the latest uptick in cases shows, we’re still not out of the woods yet, so it’s absolutely vital to maintain social distancing measures as best we can; in particular, wash your hands and wear a mask.
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Over the past month, the news has been flooded with reports of refugees crossing the Channel to reach the UK. How convenient for the Government that this story reached a fever pitch in the same week that it published its catastrophic unemployment data.
Clearly, the Government and its cheerleaders in the right-wing press would rather stir up anti-migrant sentiment than answering the uncomfortable questions about who the real beneficiaries of state support have been during the pandemic: the tax-dodging companies receiving no-strings bailouts and the close friends of government being awarded multimillion-pound procurement contracts despite their demonstrable lack of experience in procuring anything.
Make no mistake, this is another Tory Government in crisis and the more it flounders, the more it lashes out. Whether it’s stripping back refugee children’s rights, extending the Hostile Environment to EU citizens or refusing to allow key workers to apply for new visas, this Government’s shown us one thing: it’s willing to go one step further than its predecessors to appear tough on immigration.
The UK has played a historic role in creating the current devastation driving people to our shores: whether it’s war, famine or natural disasters caused by climate breakdown. As well as welcoming those who wash up here, now’s the time to address our role in creating the conditions that drive people out of their homes in the first place.
As humanitarians, as internationalists, as socialists, the Labour Party must always say loud and clear that refugees are welcome in the UK.