Opinion: Good will to all, but not from Sunak’s Crowd

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Dave Shurlock, Secretary, Farnham & Bordon Labour Party

Christmas and the New Year is a time for goodwill to all, and for enjoying the company of friends and family. But it’s also a time for reflection, particularly about those who are less fortunate than us.

I was struck by the fact that of all the boroughs in Surrey, it is ours (Waverley) that has taken in the most Ukrainian refugees. It is proof, if it were ever needed, of the warmth, humanity and common decency of the people of this part of the world. There is room at the Inn here.

The contrast between this generous, welcoming spirit and the raft of increasingly desperate pre-election policies pumped out by the government this week could not have been more stark. The most shameless has to be the threat to deport refugees to Rwanda.

The boats are still arriving on our shores in spite of our hapless Prime Minister’s promise to halt them. More importantly the number of those fleeing persecution waiting for a decision on their immigration status continues to run at record levels, at over 170,000 people. That’s more than eight times higher than it was when Labour left office. And, as Labour’s Yvette Cooper pointed out in the Parliamentary debate, deportations are less than half the number in 2010. Yet, the number of people seeking asylum in this country is less than half what it was in the early 2000s.

So, it’s blatantly obvious that chaos reigns at the Home Office. Even the basics are not being done properly. And, this chaos risks undermining the rule of law in this country. It’s not just ludicrous passing a law saying a country is safe, when it clearly is not; it endangers our democracy. Similarly, giving Rwandan government officials close to £400 million – for absolutely nothing – when our public services are crying out for investment, is the economics of the mad house.

It also means misery for thousands who – like the Ukrainians – are wanting to escape war, violence, persecution and famine. They won’t be living in comfortable Farnham homes this Christmas, but in barges, army barracks and overcrowded hotel rooms. And, to add insult to injury, they are expected to live on just £39.63 a week and are prevented from working regardless of how long it takes for their application to be processed.

I believe that this shames our nation, and I know that the people of Farnham and Bordon are bigger hearted and better than this. I hope they will join with me in opposing this utterly inhumane policy, and remembering who is responsible for it when they approach the ballot box next year.

Finally, I would like to wish your readers a very Happy Christmas, and a happy New Year.

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