The UK has a moral duty over Channel crossings – we cannot abandon it in favour of callousness

Editorial: As our Refugees Welcome campaign has made clear, the UK needs to be increasing its humanitarian commitments

Thursday 09 September 2021 21:30

There’s nothing wrong with Priti Patel’s plan to turn back boats containing refugees and migrants in the English Channel – except that it’s immoral, legally dubious and ineffective.

The immorality of getting tough with people in extreme danger should hardly need elaboration. Men, women and children in unseaworthy vessels, in a busy sea lane in the world, without adequate supplies… what should an appropriate human response be? How about compassion, and mercy?

The example of moral leadership during this crisis has been set by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI). The lifeboats save lives, regardless of politics and treats all human beings the same. For doing the right thing, lifeboat crews – entirely dependent on public charity and volunteering – have been vilified by some public figures, who should know better, as providing a “taxi service”. The RNLI can and should do nothing else, because they won’t leave them to drown.

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