Boris Johnson’s appalling language shows that the EU deal with Libya shouldn’t be a sticking plaster | Fergal Keane

At its face value, Immigration Minister Brandon Lewis’s reaction to Spain’s deal with the Libyan coastguard (Libya’s armed coastguard would seize boats and force migrants to disembark or risk being shot at) is simple:…

Boris Johnson’s appalling language shows that the EU deal with Libya shouldn’t be a sticking plaster | Fergal Keane

At its face value, Immigration Minister Brandon Lewis’s reaction to Spain’s deal with the Libyan coastguard (Libya’s armed coastguard would seize boats and force migrants to disembark or risk being shot at) is simple: it’s no different from a deal Theresa May struck with Turkey.

“I don’t think it’s appropriate for us to be the ones to come up with new refugee protection arrangements for different countries on the basis of dodgy one-off deals like this,” Lewis told MPs.

A dopey politician repeatedly refusing to see the point of what is essentially a sort of six-year old mutton dressed as lamb. No doubt he took a recent glance at Joe Thomson’s recent article, which details the politically toxicness of May’s deal with Turkey, hammered out in 2015 in the run-up to its referendum. Joe writes that:

Though a clear majority voted to leave the EU, a significant minority swung behind the Leave side – for better or worse – because they had their nerves tested by the failed coup. Inside the EU, the British government is desperate to avoid the same situation.

As is the case in the present situation, it seems that John Major went to the early grave owing to political interference in trade negotiations with the EU (though of course, he lied his way into the so-called single market, when he had negotiated the muddle-through deal ahead of the crucial 1992 referendum). And why shouldn’t the prime minister be honest and responsible about her own days in Downing Street, the same “predatory country deal” being offered again as a “sticking plaster for the Government, because her Tory Brexit wing are too weak to be responsible,” as Vicky Foxcroft puts it?

Of course, there is only so much the UK government can do to stem the flow of illegal migrants across its shared border, with the EU having agreed on a common approach to this issue, although UK immigration minister Brandon Lewis and Boris Johnson’s ill-fated interventions after the Costa del Brexit just don’t help matters.

British aid and diplomatic support are unlikely to make a difference, they won’t stop the boats from coming, and even a European “modus operandi” will only work if there is a stable migration channel in the country being looked after. One might only expect the EU to make arrangements that don’t depend on the overall security situation in the country in question, like peace and prosperity there, which is increasingly the case with Libya, and Europe should be putting pressure on its member countries to do so, as should people in Africa and Europe’s member states.

We are likely to see more such deals announced between now and Brexit day, when we are supposed to be having an “In/Out” referendum on whether we should be leaving the EU.

Risks to the country are obvious: imagine what the consequences might be if June next year’s EU referendum (and I hope it’s “Out”), once a purely hypothetical event, becomes the day that we can’t step out our door. Not only that, but how much would we miss if, having ignored the developing refugee crisis for five years, we had to stand by a wall (and, as an aside, who thought having a system of border controls was a good idea when we created them in the first place?) and wait for our government to create a solution. What do you think the experience would be like?

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