'The day a migrant sets foot on this barge will be the biggest Tory fail ever'

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The Tories will declare it a great victory, but never realise it
The Tories will declare it a great victory, but never realise it's someone else's

The media grid is ready. The briefings have begun. Suella Braverman has been pumped full of drivel and her handler is ready to pull the pin.

This is the week the Tories want you to know they've fixed the migrant crisis by locking them up on a boat, and to be fair to the government there's no better time to do it than mid-Silly Season.

Because a) they're not locked up; b) it hasn't fixed anything; and c) they're using our cash to pull an ineffective PR stunt that merely reminds people how they've cocked it up. As value for taxpayer money goes, the Bibby Stockholm migrant barge wheeze ranks right up there with £1billion worth of PPE that was less effective than a bin bag, and twice as dirty.

That won't stop them braying all over the airwaves about the "deterrent effect" of not being in a hotel, without noting that a boat with a roof and three square meals a day is a hell of an improvement on life under canvas, in a dinghy, or at the mercy of criminals and killers. But then to a Tory minister, not being in a hotel is an horrific idea. Offer Robert Jenrick a self-catering holiday in Dorset, and he'd probably slap you for insolence.

'The day a migrant sets foot on this barge will be the biggest Tory fail ever' eideziqkeiqhhinvHe's got the kind of face that says "it's the Dordogne or nothing!" (ZUMAPRESS.com / MEGA)

On the one hand, the government wants to say this barge is part of a theatre of cruelty in which they will torture migrants, and appease their base, to make foreigners stay away. And on the other, their victims are being offered allotments, medical care, free taxis and trips to the cricket.

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Even if that were all that was happening, the barge wouldn't tick a single voter's or MP's boxes. It cannot be both a floating prison and have people able to come and go.

But there's worse. For while it's £20,000 a day to run the ship, it's only a saving to the public purse if there's 500 migrants aboard. If there's just 50, it's £400 a day, and for that you could put them up in Mayfair AND pay the minibar.

On top of that comes the cost of security guards, which will be needed when the Nazis turn up as they invariably do; the medics needed to treat traumatised people living in close proximity having just come out of disease-riddled canvas camps; and the taxpayer bung to the local council to provide extra services. Roll all the costs together and what you have, in the Bibby Stockholm migrant barge, is just a more expensive way of making things worse.

'The day a migrant sets foot on this barge will be the biggest Tory fail ever'Just about sums it up - Rishi Sunak can have that for a strapline (AP)

But the fact the barge exists at all is indicative of massive failures over decades, by more than one government of more than one party. From David Blunkett to Theresa May, via Priti Patel, there has not been a single Home Secretary in my lifetime that has said: "Well, we need the workers." There has not been a Prime Minister who hasn't talked about "getting immigration down", and there have been several who've been as racist as they dare purely to get elected, all without solving the thing which history tells us is not a problem.

Because the country isn't full. Nowhere near. There's a million vacancies in the economy, and unless someone does the work the rest of us can't or don't want to, we'll be stuck in economic gloom forever. And the only way of making the asylum system fair and accurate - giving succour to those who deserve it, and weeding out the tiny number who don't - is an amnesty which would clear the backlog of 172,000 cases overnight, and allow the Border Force to start again with a clean piece of paper.

By way of comparison, there were 5 times as many live births in the UK last year, and no-one's suggested Boris Johnson tie a knot in it. There's higher legal migration of 500,000-plus, and they're not having a harmful impact on our culture or services. If it weren't for them, your next trip to the NHS would involve being examined by Jeremy Hunt on a blood-spattered ward as a family member delivers pain relief by way of a whisky bottle.

The waves of immigration these islands have experienced have each improved us. Those who have more have a responsibility to those with less. And the poorest person in Britain has more than anyone who arrives on a small boat - you can probably swim, for a start. You have a GP, free education, and some optimism that tomorrow you won't be shot.

We get just 0.6% of the world's 27 million refugees. Presumably, the other 99.4% think our governments are too silly.

Because what they're not shouting about is that it's refugees on this barge. The vast majority will get approval to stay. They are here to contribute and work, and aren't being allowed to despite the fact it would improve all our lives if they were. It's not refugees that the average Brit objects to, yet it's the refugees the government is trying its damndest to be cruel to.

For some reason, Braverman, Jenrick and the others want you to think that by being rude to genuine refugees it will keep away the 500,000 legal immigrants who got visas. That brutality towards those in need will solve the climate change which is causing wars and failed states and mass migration. That spending more money is the same as spending less, and if that doesn't work there's always Rwanda, where they're not allowed to send anyone, or Ascension Island, where they'd have to spend billions building a hospital and housing and roads.

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The average, mildly-racist-but-pretends-not-to-be Brit has a problem with immigration, not refugees. The Tories have a problem with immigration, too, and it's the fact they cannot reduce it without destroying the economy more thoroughly than Liz Truss could ever dream of, so they're being rude to asylum seekers instead, and hoping the voter will never ask why.

And there's the fail - the Tories cannot satisfy the racists, or the liberals, or the cash-strapped middle. They daren't talk sense so they just spout drivel, and all anyone will see when the first migrant sets foot on that barge is someone who, by any definition, shouldn't be there. The Tories will declare it a great victory, but they will never realise it's someone else's.

Fleet Street Fox

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