The Afghan pilot’s story has exposed a serious flaw in the government’s immigration policy

Editorial: Dominic Raab, the justice secretary, could and should have said there might be scope within the government’s two Afghan schemes for the pilot to be helped, given his exceptional circumstances

Wednesday 29 March 2023 20:38 BST
(Dave Brown)

Dominic Raab, the deputy prime minister and justice secretary, reached for the life raft that ministers often seek when confronted with difficult questions about the Afghan pilot who fought alongside British forces against the Taliban but is now threatened with deportation to Rwanda. “I don’t want to comment on individual cases,” Mr Raab told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

It was never going to wash on such a sensitive case. By definition, the plight of the desperate people risking their lives to cross the Channel in small boats are all “individual cases”. There were 45,000 of them last year and ministers fear the number will grow this year. They are right to tackle a problem that worries many voters. But they should do it in a humane and fair way that reflects the values of the vast majority of British people.

Mr Raab was rightly challenged by Justin Webb, his BBC interviewer, who pointed out that the air force lieutenant arrived in a small boat because did not have a “safe route” out of Afghanistan as he would have needed the permission of the government in Kabul and feared for his life, as The Independent revealed. This process was acknowledged by the Ministry of Defence this week after another disclosure in The Independent. We have also now started a petition to restore justice and to call for the UK to support Afghan war heroes who served alongside Britain.

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