London passes tough new immigration law

The British House of Commons has passed a new immigration law under which people who have entered the country irregularly can be denied the right to asylum. According to the UN, the new law violates international asylum and refugee regulations. A symbol of the new rules is the Bibby Stockholm, a huge barge which is set to house 500 asylum seekers and has now been towed into Portland Port in Dorset, southern England.

The Guardian (GB) /

Contrary to our values

The new law is inhumane, says The Guardian:

“Under the bill, all those arriving who have had to undertake dangerous journeys because they weren’t able to get a visa to come to the UK will face detention on arrival. ... It’s difficult to see how the new law will act as the deterrent the government says it is. Instead, it will make matters much worse and cause immense human misery. The government has chosen a path that doesn’t reflect the values most of us hold dear: of showing compassion, respect and humanity for those people who through no fault of their own become refugees, and who are simply searching for safety.”

Enver Solomon
The Spectator (GB) /

Stage victory on the path to deterrence

Even though there are still problems to be overcome, The Spectator is satisfied with the passing of the law:

“Given that there is currently nowhere to deport the great majority of such people to, the victory for now is largely notional. Unless the Supreme Court overturns the Court of Appeal’s judgement by ruling the Rwanda removals agreement as lawful. ... With the passage of this Bill, the laws will be ready for the great day. ... An important hurdle has been cleared in the government’s mission to break the business model of people traffickers by creating a powerful disincentive against anyone paying them large sums to cross the Channel illegally.”

Patrick O’Flynn
El País (ES) /

UK ruining its reputation

El País sees the move as an act of desperation on the part of the British prime minister:

“Faced with the choice of giving in to the hardliners in his party or ensuring that international law is respected and that the UK’s prestige on the subject of human rights remains intact, Rishi Sunak has opted for the former. ... The arrival this week of the Bibby Stockholm, a grotesque and gigantic vessel described by humanitarian organisations as a ‘floating prison’, highlighted the frustration and confusion of the UK government in dealing with the migration crisis. ... Sunak, out of sheer desperation, has pushed international law to intolerable limits.”

Infowar (GR) /

The historical legacy of slavery

The website Infowar draws a connection between the planned imprisonment of refugees and the slave trade, pointing to the history of the shipping company Bibby Lines, owner of the Bibby Stockholm barge now moored off the south coast of England:

“Although the transport of slaves was banned by Great Britain in 1807, slave ownership was permitted in the empire’s colonies until 1838 and in some American states until 1865. This means that although Bibby’s ships officially stopped transporting slaves after 1807, they transported and profited from products produced by the sweat of slaves — just like all other merchant shipping companies of that time whose owners are now considered ‘benefactors’ of the British nation.”

Andreas Kosiaris