The Guardian view on deaths in the Channel: the tide of xenophobia | Editorial

Thu, 25 Nov 2021 19:07:37 GMT 5

The Guardian view on deaths in the Channel: the tide of xenophobia | Editorial

The government must stop pandering to anti-migrant sentiment and come up with a humane policy that meets its international responsibilities

Boris Johnson’s government must develop a new approach to asylum as a matter of urgency. The deaths of 27 people who were attempting to reach England in a small boat on Wednesday have prompted an outpouring of distress. No one wants the Channel to become a graveyard, and the stricken faces of the people interviewed by journalists in northern France over recent days have brought home their sheer desperation to millions of Britons.

But unless Mr Johnson and his most senior colleagues and advisers take the lead in setting out a different direction, there is no reason to think that this tragedy will mark any kind of turning point. At the moment, the government appears trapped in a snare of its own making – along with the section of the public that it took with it when ministers decided to talk and act tough on asylum seekers. This is what led to the shameful situation in which the main response to this week’s tragedy is to blame the French. The government push for morally and legally dubious legislation designed to create an even more hostile environment is justified by claims that the number of people seeking asylum is overwhelming.

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