I suspect the majority of us are utterly perplexed at the policy failures to date around migration across the channel. The Times, Comment, July 23rd. For this is a solvable problem and there are humane ways forward that involve a proper communications exercise:

1/The message needs to go to countries from where migrants are coming that Britain isn't any more the land of milk and honey, gold and glory, wealth and patronage. It has its own problems with housing shortages, unemployment, cost of public services, national debt and recovery from Covid. Surely this message can go out via the existing networks of officials and diplomats in the key relevant countries?

2/ The burden of proof needs to be put onto incoming migrants to show they have not travelled having paid intermediaries or people traffickers. No-one coming having paid a third party need have their claim taken seriously.

3/ As regards housing, education and benefits those already resident in the country need have priority.

4/The message needs to go out to countries of origin that potential migrants need not feel that because they have a family member in Britain already this would automatically give them greater priority in assessment of their case on arrival.

5/Legal routes for genuine asylum seekers into the country need to be strengthened. Anyone arriving illegally will not be considered and will be deported back to their country of origin within 24 hours.

This may all seem enormously tough. But a proper communications exercise would help prevent migrants even attempting the perilous journey, stop intermediaries facilitating the migrant trade, and open up more legal routes for genuine asylum seekers, and I am afraid, this needs to be said too, give a degree of priority in the allocation of state support to those already legally resident in Britain.

Elizabeth Smith


(former policy adviser to a number of organisations)