Colin Brazier: You may have been left with the impression that it’s only Jamaicans who are at risk of deportation
If we accept the logic of non-UK citizen deportations, why can anyone quibble about Jamaican criminals facing the same punishment?
Spare a thought for the poor, forgotten, overlooked criminals of Poland.
No celebrity is mounting an emotional appeal against their deportation from Britain. No MPs are demanding that their flight to Warsaw be cancelled. Not a single mature student, it seems can be persuaded to lie down in front of a police van. What is the world coming to?
How very different it will be tomorrow morning, when a charter flight leaves Britain with up to 50 Jamaican nationals on board. The passenger roster is a roll call of men Britain can well do without. It includes a murderer, at least one paedophile, several rapists and a number of villains convicted of violent offences.
This is not only desirable, but wholly lawful. And the law, though enforced by the Tories tomorrow, was actually passed by a Labour government. The UK Borders Act 2007 demands that foreign criminals, if given a custodial sentence longer than a year, must be deported to their home country.
And yet the clamour for tomorrow’s departure to be halted is growing, just as it did last year when a flight carrying the same number of criminals flew to Kingston. Then, petitions were signed, lawyers involved, 80 black celebrities including Naomi Campbell signed up. There was an attempt to boycott the airline involved. The hashtag '#stoptheplane' trended on Twitter.
As then, so again this week. Once more campaigners have labelled the flight discriminatory.
Diane Abbott wrote: “It is an arbitrary sentence that the British state is able to impose, in practise, because the deportees are not white.
But what about the deportation flights, not for bad black men, but bad white men. The truth is that the law is colour blind. To repeat: anyone convicted of at least 12 months in a British prison, and who is not a British citizen, will be repatriated.
It doesn’t matter whether that’s to Kingston in Jamaica or Vilnius in Lithuania. And just to be clear, the British penal system hates locking people up. If someone has been given a custodial sentence of longer than a year, it’s not because they were selling soft drugs or shoplifting.
And yet you may have been left with the impression that it’s only Jamaicans who are at risk of deportation. Yet, in reality, since April last year 75 flights have been chartered to return criminals to countries including Albania, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Spain. In the year ending June 2020, there were 5,203 so-called enforced returns, of which more than half were to EU countries.
Those campaigning against Jamaican deportations say that some of those on the plane came to the UK as children and for a variety of reasons, never became British citizens. This is cited as evidence of discrimination. And yet it’s not clear how many EU citizens this applies to as well. We haven’t heard because there is no comparable hue and cry about deportations to continental Europe.
There are no Actors for Albanians, no students for Slovakians, no protests for the Poles. Criminals from Eastern Europe face the same sanctions under British law. If, as a non-UK citizen, they commit a serious crime, they will be sent back to the country of their birth. If we accept the logic of THEIR deportations, why can anyone quibble about Jamaican criminals facing the same punishment.
And yet that’s precisely what’s happening. Claudia Webbe, who was elected as a Labour MP two years ago, but now sits as an independent, described tomorrow’s deportation flight as cruel and racist. It was, she said “…not designed to make Britain safer, but instead designed to stoke the flames of racial hatred and division.”
If anyone’s stoking the flames of racial hatred, ignoring the even handedness of a law which deports white as well as black, it is activists like Claudia Webbe. If they get their way tomorrow, and the flight to Jamaica is cancelled, they need to persuade us why Britain should give a home to men, who as well as being foreign nationals, are also doing time for rape and murder.