Boris Johnson apologies to pandemic victims at COVID inquiry

The former UK leader will speak at the ongoing inquiry on Wednesday and Thursday, following criticism from colleagues and the public on how he handled the pandemic.


Disgraced former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has apologised for the “pain and the loss and the suffering” of the victims of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United Kingdom.

Speaking at the ongoing COVID inquiry in London, he added that he “understands the feelings of these victims and their families”, repeating that he is “deeply sorry”.

Adding that he remains grateful to healthcare workers and other public servants who were on the frontline during the pandemic, Johnson explained that he hopes the inquiry will get “the answers these families are rightly asking”.

Johnson acknowledged that his government was too slow to grasp the scale of the crisis, although he skirted questions over whether any of his decisions had contributed to the country’s high death toll – one of the worst across the globe.

Testifying under oath at the inquiry, Johnson acknowledged that “we underestimated the scale and the pace of the challenge” when reports of a new virus began to emerge from China in early 2020.

The “panic level was not sufficiently high,” he admitted.

Last week, the former Health Secretary told the inquiry last week that he had tried to raise the alarm inside the government.

Matt Hancock claimed that thousands of lives could have been saved by putting the country under lockdown a few weeks earlier than the eventual date of 23 March 2020.

Britain went on to have one of Europe’s longest and strictest lockdowns. With the deaths of more than 232,000 people, it comes in at close to the top of the continent’s highest death tolls

Johnson acknowledged the government had “made mistakes” but put emphasis on apparent collective failure rather than his own errors.

He claimed that ministers, civil servants and scientific advisers had failed to sound a “loud enough klaxon of alarm” about the virus.

“If we had collectively stopped to think about the mathematical implications of some of the forecasts that were being made… we might have operated differently,” Johnson said.

Grilled by inquiry lawyer Hugo Keith, he acknowledged that he did not attend any of the government’s five Cobra crisis meetings on the new virus in February 2020. He admitted to looking only “once or twice” meeting minutes from the government’s scientific advisory group.

Johnson also claimed he had relied on “distilled” advice from his science and medicine advisers.

His testimony was interrupted as four people stood up in court as he spoke, holding signs saying: “The dead can’t hear your apologies,” before being escorted out by security staff.

Following their removal, he admitted his government had made mistakes.

“Inevitably, in the course of trying to handle a very, very difficult pandemic in which we had to balance appalling harms on either side of the decision, we may have made mistakes,” Johnson said, adding “Inevitably, we got some things wrong”.

He did assert, however, “I think we were doing our best at the time.”


The former prime minister had arrived at the inquiry venue at daybreak, several hours before he was due to take the stand, avoiding a protest by relatives of some of those who died after contracting the virus.

A group gathered outside the office building where the inquiry was set, some holding pictures of their loved ones. A banner declared: “Let the bodies pile high” – a statement attributed to Johnson by an aide. Another sign read: “Johnson partied while people died.”

Johnson agreed in late 2021 to hold a public inquiry after heavy pressure from bereaved families. The probe, led by retired Judge Heather Hallett, is expected to take three years to complete, though interim reports will be issued starting next year.

Johnson has submitted a written evidence statement to the inquiry but has not handed over some 5,000 WhatsApp messages from several key weeks between February and June 2020. They were on a phone Johnson was told to stop using when it emerged that the number had been publicly available online for years. Johnson later said he’d forgotten the password to unlock it.

At the inquiry on Wednesday, he reiterated: “Can I, for the avoidance of doubt, make it absolutely clear I haven’t removed any WhatsApps from my phone?”.


Wednesday marks the first day he’s expected to be questioned by the Inquiry. He will also face them on Thursday. 

The controversial leader, who resigned his post last June, will be grilled over his handling of the pandemic – as well as his government’s response.

The inquiry has so far heard and seen clear evidence of disarray inside Johnson’s cabinet, especially during the early weeks of the outbreak.

There has been public outcry, too, over lockdown-breaking parties in Downing Street which Johnson long denied even happened. 

Senior officials got drunk and partied during these events, while the country was in full lockdown, with some people unable to say goodbye to dying loved ones. 


Earlier this year, a Parliament committee found that he had repeatedly and deliberately lied about breaking COVID lockdown rules.

In a damning 30,000-word paper, the body said his denials were “so disingenuous that they were deliberate attempts to mislead the Committee”, also referring to the “frequency with which he closed his mind to the truth.”

As a result, he stepped down with immediate effect as an MP and Johnson, his wife Carrie and now Prime Minister – then Chancellor – Rishi Sunak among more than 100 staff fined by police.

At the COVID Inquiry, Johnson is likely to be asked to explain why he initially tried to play down the threat posed by the deadly virus. He’ll also face questions over whether he failed to chair Cobra meetings coordinating the government’s response early on in the pandemic.

The Inquiry has already heard several pieces of damning evidence against the former PM.


One particularly condemnatory example came from chief scientific adviser Patrick Vallance. In a diary entry written on 19 September 2020, he wrote: ”[Johnson] is all over the place and so completely inconsistent. You can see why it was so difficult to get agreement to lock down the first time.”

Speaking in front of the Inquiry panel in November, Vallance also claimed that Johnson had been “bamboozled” by the myriad scientific evidence about the pandemic.

Dominic Cummings, Johnson’s former chief adviser, had similar criticisms.

In written evidence presented to the inquiry, he claimed that, at the start of 2020, Johnson was distracted by “financial problems”, his divorce and pressure from his then-girlfriend Carrie wanted to “finalise the announcement of their engagement”.

Early that year, Lee Cain, Johnson’s former director of communications sent a message to Cummings asserting that the PM “doesn’t think [COVID] is a big deal and he doesn’t think anything can be done and his focus is elsewhere”.


“He thinks it’ll be like swine flu and he thinks his main danger is taking the economy into a slump,” Cain added.

Rishi Sunak is also expected to give evidence later in December.

The inquiry will not find any individual guilty of a crime. It aims to take lessons away from how the crisis was handled and how the UK could put in place preparation for a similar event in the future.

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UK’s 2022 migration levels revised to a record-breaking high

The figures will likely be an embarrassment for Rishi Sunak’s Conservative government who consistently pledge to bring the levels down.


Net migration in the United Kingdom hit a record-breaking 745,000 in 2022, according to revised figures which also revealed some 672,000 people came to the UK in the 12 months to June 2023.

The numbers released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) had previously been put at 606,000, which was deemed then to be a record high.

It’s a significant embarrassment for the country’s Conservative government, who have continuously insisted that it remains committed to reducing migration.

Led by Rishi Sunak, the party has already introduced measures to try to reduce the figure.

Among their initiatives was a plan to stop international students bringing their families with them when they study in the UK – except under very specific circumstances.

Even more controversially, Sunak’s plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda was ruled unlawful by the Supreme Court earlier in November.

It was part of his attempt to stop small boats crossing the English Channel and a policy supported by many, including the New Conservatives group on the right of the party.

They have repeatedly called for ministers to close temporary visa schemes for care workers and to cap the number of refugees resettling in the UK at 20,000 – with the aim of reducing net migration to 226,000 by the time of the election, which is likely to be held next year.

It is now certain that these efforts have not come to fruition for the Conservatives as they had hoped.

The ONS release of the statistic – some 140,000 higher than first thought – has caused criticism from all parts of the political spectrum.

The Conservatives themselves have hit out at the numbers – with former cabinet minister Simon Clarke saying having legal migration at such a level was “unsustainable both economically and socially”.

MP Jonathan Gullis went one step further, calling the figures “completely unacceptable to the majority of the British people”, and suggesting that “drastic action” is needed.

The newly-installed Home Secretary James Cleverly has all but dismissed the figures – and the impact they’re likely to have – instead insisting that the government remained “completely committed to reducing levels of legal migration” and would also be “focusing relentlessly” on tackling illegal migration.

On the other side of the political fence, the Labour Party have been using the findings as a way to attack the Conservatives and their apparent failures.

Labour’s shadow home secretary, Yvette Cooper, says she and the party believe the statistics show “the scale of utter Tory failure on immigration, asylum, and the economy”.

It’s an interesting time for Sunak’s government – and its newest, surprise hire David Cameron.

In 2010, the then-prime minister – who is now Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron – pledged to bring net migration down to the “tens of thousands”.

Successive Tory governments have sought to move away from exact targets for reasons exactly like we are seeing now.


Sunak is under increasing pressure from the right of his party to reduce net migration, especially in light of the 2019 Tory manifesto – when Boris Johnson was in charge. It promised to bring the “overall number down”.

Home Secretary James Cleverly insists that he and the cabinet are “working across government on further measures to prevent exploitation and manipulation of our visa system, including clamping down on those that take advantage of the flexibility of the immigration system”.

Do the figures work both ways?

According to the ONS, most people arriving in the UK in the year to June 2023 were non-EU nationals.

They made up a total of 968,000 immigrants, followed by 129,000 EU citizens.

At the same time, both EU nationals and Britons were leaving the country in greater numbers.


Some 10,000 more EU nationals left than arrived in the UK and 86,000 more British nationals were seen to be leaving than arriving.

The net figure for non-EU people overall, though, was 768,000 more arriving than leaving.

Work was discovered to be the largest reason people from outside the EU migrated to the UK.

That figure was at 278,000 – and the first time employment was the most popular reason.

Against the Conservatives’ wishes, more foreign students were seen to be staying for longer – and bringing dependents or family members with them.


For those coming to the UK out of desperation, the number remained relatively stable.

Around 88,000 people were granted asylum, up from 73,000 in the year to June 2022 – when ongoing COVID-19 restrictions were still having more of an impact.

The ONS suggests that net migration has “increased sharply” since 2021 due to a rise in immigration from non-EU countries.

They include thousands of individuals arriving via humanitarian routes from the likes of Ukraine and Hong Kong.

The ONS figures show that the asylum backlog has fallen slightly.


At the end of June 2023, there were 175,457 people waiting for a decision on their asylum claim; that number dropped to 165,411 by the end of September.

But, that’s not as positive as it might seem, Sile Reynolds, Head of Asylum Advocacy at Freedom from Torture tells Euronews.

“The UK Government’s own data on asylum disproves the toxic and divisive narrative that has guided its punitive approach to refugees. These statistics leave no doubt that most people reaching our shores need sanctuary – men, women and children who have fled the most unimaginable horrors like torture and war, in places like Afghanistan, Syria and Iran,” Reynolds explains.

The charity also hit out at the government’s treatment of so-called “legacy backlog” cases.

They are, in simple terms, claims made before the end of June 2022, which are being cleared by the Conservatives at significant speed, with 28,202 cases taken care of in the last three months.


“The phenomenal rate at which ‘legacy’ claims are being decided – at nearly 8,000 per month – demonstrates what they can do when they want to deal with a problem”, Reynolds tells Euronews.

“This data disguises the catastrophic backlog of new asylum claims growing as a direct result of a flawed policy of deterrence. As a result, thousands of refugees, including survivors of torture, are condemned to languish in limbo and unsafe accommodation, unable to recover or rebuild their lives,” he adds.

All change for asylum rules?

Sunak’s Rwanda policy was targeted at people arriving in the UK by ‘unauthorised means’, including frequent Channel crossings.

They would have been deported to the African nation and made to claim asylum there and not in the UK.

In its landmark ruling, though, the Supreme Court said that those sent to Rwanda would be at “real risk” of being sent back to their country of origin regardless of whether their asylum claim was justified or not.


That, they say, is something which would breach international laws on human rights.

Sunak called the ruling “frustrating” and promised to double down on the policy, saying he would “change laws and revisit… international relationships”.

That is not a popular plan with many.

“These statistics show that cruel deterrents, like the Rwanda plan so recently declared unlawful by the highest court in the land, will not stop people risking their lives trying to reach sanctuary here in the UK,” Reynolds says, adding, “Rather than punishing refugees, this Government should reverse the cruel asylum ban, urgently refocus their efforts into rebuilding a fair and compassionate asylum system and restore and expand safe routes to protection.”

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UK concrete crisis: What is RAAC and why is it ‘crumbling’?

As schools across the country are forced to partially close and London airports confirm their buildings have RAAC, Euronews takes a look at the impact RAAC has and will have going forward.

It hasn’t been a normal ‘back to school’ for many pupils in the United Kingdom this September.


More than 150 schools in the nation have been forced to close – fully or partially – thanks to the fact that they are fitted with a type of concrete which could suddenly collapse.

Reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete – otherwise known as RAAC – is a lightweight building material which was used from the 1950s up to the mid-1990s in the UK and across the globe.

Recently, it has been assessed to be at risk of collapse and is not just present in schools, but also in hospitals, airports, housing blocks, theatres and other public buildings.

The British government has attracted huge amounts of criticism due to their handling of the situation and ministers in England and Scotland have been accused of covering up evidence relating to the severity of the problem for months.

Earlier this week, UK Education Secretary Gillian Keegan was forced to apologise after making “off-the-cuff” remarks on camera while expressing frustration about the crumbling concrete crisis in schools.

“Does anyone ever say ’you know what you’ve done a f***ing good job because everyone else has sat on their arse and done nothing?′”, Keegan said at the end of an interview with broadcaster ITV.

Before the controversy about RAAC – and the much-maligned government’s reaction – came to the forefront, a report by the UK’s spending watchdog, the National Audit Office (NAO), had highlighted the cost and complexity involved in dealing with the problem.

The government has since committed to completely rebuilding seven “structurally unsound” hospitals built with RAAC but parents and political opponents alike are in uproar following parliament’s response, with some saying it was “too slow” and “doesn’t go far enough”.

If you’re finding it hard to get your head around the controversy surrounding RAAC as well as the sheer scale of the problem, Euronews is here to help, with the assistance of some construction experts.

What is RAAC?

RAAC is known as a less durable form of concrete, with a lifespan of around 30 years. It’s prone to collapse when it gets wet. Remarkably, concerns about its structural integrity were first raised by researchers nearly 30 years ago, back in 1994.


Manufacturing in the UK stopped in the 1980s and, although it’s not entirely clear why it was brought to an end, researchers believed that the material could be prone to problems.

“Due to its lightweight, RAAC planks were commonly used for flat roofing, which is a primary reason the present circumstances are perilous. In the 1990s, even as RAAC was still in use, structural engineers found that its durability wasn’t enduring over the years” Stuart Bosley, managing director of Quantum and Project Advisory at DeSimone Consulting Engineers, toldEuronews.

“As RAAC ages, it can weaken, increasing the risk of structural collapses. Its initial popularity stemmed from its lightweight, ease of installation and affordability. At its height of use, it was viewed as a cutting-edge and efficient building material”, Bosley added.

Where was RAAC used?

Contrary to some current reports, RAAC wasn’t just used in the UK.


It was also very popular in countries including Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa from the 1950s up to the 1980s.

Experts said it was very unlikely that RAAC manufactured in countries other than the UK would be able to avoid similar problems.

“RAAC was used in various parts of Europe, but the extent to which each country or region adopted it would vary”, Stuart Bosley explained.

“[Other collapses in Europe] might raise questions about the usage of RAAC or similar materials in other European structures. However, it’s essential to investigate each incident individually to determine the exact causes”, he adds.

How dangerous is RAAC?


“RAAC has a shorter service life due to its inherent properties. Its high volume of pores makes it less reliable for structural purposes”, Andrew Coombe, managing director at My Build My Way told Euronews.

“Larger RAAC units are particularly prone to sudden cracking, which can be catastrophic in load-bearing elements, and a collapse can happen with no warning”, Coome added, “As a porous structure RAAC is vulnerable to moisture, chloride, and carbon dioxide, which can lead to the corrosion of steel bars or welded wire fabric which act as reinforcement agents within the concrete”.

While it’s not entirely clear exactly how many buildings contain RAAC, Stuart Bosley explained that it was absolutely crucial they are all checked to ensure the safety of people inside and nearby.

“Any structure built with RAAC during its popular usage period should be assessed for potential risks”, he said.

The present issue dates back to at least 2018 in the UK, when part of the roof collapsed at Singlewell Primary School in Gravesend, Kent. RAAC was linked to the collapse of the roof and although no one was hurt, government opponents say the Conservatives should have moved significantly faster after that incident.

Where did the concerns around RAAC come from?

While you likely may not have heard of RAAC until 2023, the root of the problem actually goes back decades.

In fact, some issues with the material have been known about for around forty years.

As early as the 1980s, there were roof collapses reported in multiple buildings, due to decades of corrosion. Some required demolitions and many were found not to contain adequate steel reinforcements.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the Building Research Establishment (BRE) published research papers which found that excessive deflections and cracking had been identified in a number of RAAC roof planks and highlighted “excessive” issues in a significant number of older buildings using the material.

In 2019, the Standing Committee on Structural Safety issued an alert about the collapse to government departments as well as hospitals, churches, building professionals and local authorities in charge of schools. They wanted that “pre-1980 RAAC planks are now past their expected service life and it is recommended that consideration is given to their replacement”.

This event, and others, prompted the Department for Education (DfE) to release safety guidelines on RAAC. There were holds up, apparently due to insufficient funding and COVID-19-related delays up until February of this year, when seven education unions demanded urgent action over the “shocking state” of school buildings at the risk of collapse.

At the time, union bosses said the situation had “reached rock bottom”. In June, four schools in Essex and the North East of England were forced to close due to the presence of RAAC in their ceilings. Pupils affected were taught remotely or at alternative, safe sites.

What’s next for preventing any RAAC-based catastrophes?

It has certainly been a trying time for those who have been informed that their buildings contain RAAC.

Some school pupils are being told they will have to take pandemic-style remote lessons, while other heads of schools have been frantically searching to find temporary facilities.

Around 14 hospitals, constructed “either wholly or in major part with RAAC”, have been ruled as dangerous, with seven of them considered “critical” and not fit for purpose beyond 2030.

As we approach the colder months, the National Risk Register has warned of the threat to schools from “low temperatures” and “heavy snowfall” which could pose a “significant threat to human welfare”.

Opposition leader Sir Keir Starmer has blamed the crumbling concrete crisis on the government “cutting corners” and “sticking plaster politics”, joining industry experts in that sentiment.

“One could argue that the government might have taken more rigorous steps to determine the actual risk extent”, Stuart Bosley told Euronews. He added, “Given that these concerns have persisted for over a decade, a well-orchestrated risk management approach could have potentially prevented this widespread dilemma”.

A government spokesperson has refuted claims of wrongdoing, saying ministers had acted “decisively” to tackle the RAAC scandal. The DfE has called for schools to proactively check for RAAC in their buildings and say they will offer funding so that expert guidance can be called in.

Some have questioned whether this goes far enough – or whether it’s simply too little too late.

“Upon identifying any wear and tear, schools should promptly establish safety measures, including sectioning off compromised areas”, Bosley explained. “It’s essential to update evacuation procedures, emphasising safeguards against possible structural emergencies”.

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NY Mag senior writer explains how ‘parental rights movement’ is so dangerous to kids and democracy

Apparently we missed this little gem from New York Magazine’s Sarah Jones over the weekend. And we’re worse off for it, because it was actually an impressive display of weapons-grade insanity with a healthy dose of projection.

You’re gonna love this, you guys:

Jones writes:

State laws passed by conservative Republicans have made LGBTQ children in particular more vulnerable to abuse at home by practically requiring schools to out them to their parents. The denial of gender-affirming care is another act of violence. Far-right activists invent tales of wanton surgeries on minors and irreversible hormonal treatments. In doing so, they obscure the high suicide rate among LGBT youth who need gender-affirming care as a matter of life or death. Children who work may be exposed to adult dangers, like workplace injury or sexual harassment. In the home and at school, children must also fear gun violence in the name of the Second Amendment. Adults who encourage the proliferation of guns do so knowing well that children will die. In their hierarchy, the adult right to a gun is worth more than the child‘s right to live. Reduced to the level of a collectible or a beloved pet, the child is not a person to the right.

Only the unborn are spared the right’s cruelty. Conservatives claim personhood for the fetus, who cannot disobey and requires nothing but a womb. The fetus is more valuable than the child because the fetus is a means to an end: the subjugation of women. Once born, a child’s value depreciates. The parental right to “train” the child takes precedence over the child’s basic rights. There are ways to circumvent a child’s established right to an education, as conservatives know. Homeschooling laws are so lax in the U.S. that thousands of children have essentially disappeared into an academic void. Even if a child goes to public school, chronic underfunding deprives many children, especially in poor areas, of a sound education. In much of the country, trans youth aren’t treated like people with medical needs but political targets. This is ownership, and the U.S. rarely interferes. There is one exception to the right’s belief in absolute parental rule: trans-affirming parents. A defiant parent is a threat to the right. They’ve stepped out of place and must be subdued.

There is no way to control a child forever. My parents learned that much. I hid books from them and discovered different ways of thinking through literature and furtive online searching. In relatively short order, I became an atheist and a socialist, a fate so dire that a former trustee at my Evangelical college told me he hoped my parents died before they knew the truth. (They did not share his sentiment.) If my example means anything, it’s this: Children are not dogs to train but adults in formation. They will learn, someday soon, that the future belongs to them. What they do with that knowledge matters to everyone. Children aren’t private property, then, but a public responsibility. To expand our democratic project to children is to grant them the security the right seeks to deny them: education, health care, shelter, food. A better America begins with the child.

Isn’t that special?

Congratulations on making The List, Sarah. You’ve definitely earned your spot on it.

Sarah really, really doesn’t want parents to look out for and take care of their kids. Not when The State — and lefties like Sarah, of course — knows better.

Go on, Sarah. Just try it.


Parents, don’t let your kids grow up to be Sarah Jones.



‘Please keep talking’! NY Mag’s Sarah Jones explains how the GOP is the party of far-Right ‘household tyrants’ who want a say in their kids’ educations


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Slippery promise of ‘control’ steers the UK’s radical migration policy

By Rob McNeil, Deputy Director, The Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford

Working on UK immigration policy issues over the last decade has been something of a wild ride.

It started with the “net migration target”, a policy pledge to reduce net migration to the “tens of thousands” – which the Government didn’t have the tools to achieve

This failure fed into a perception that migration – particularly from the EU – was “out of control” and proved decisive in the UK’s Brexit vote.

After Brexit, migration became less of a hot-button issue for a while. 

It was an odd experience for those of us who were used to our phones ringing all day and night with requests for interviews. 

Suddenly they were silent, and polls from reputable organisations like Pew started showing that among major economies, the UK public was one of the most positively inclined toward the benefits of migration.

It all felt rather surprising after the sledgehammer of migration narratives during the referendum, but in reality, it told a story of the complex and nuanced responses that the British public has to migration issues.

Of course, there is no single “British perspective” on migration: it always depends on who is being asked and how – the precise wording of questions makes a big difference. 

But that idea of “control” commonly seems to loom large in public debates and policymaking.

Small boat crossings were almost non-existent until recently

It has been hammered home again by the latest “crisis” frame in the UK policy and media debate on migration, which focuses on small boat arrivals of asylum seekers travelling from northern France. 

It has been a spur for the ruling Conservative party to generate policy proving that they do have control. The outcome has been two major overhauls of immigration policy in as many years, with an explicit aim to “stop the boats”.

To put things in context, small boat crossings as a means of entering the UK to claim asylum were almost unheard of until 2018. 

Traditionally, most irregular arrivals in the UK up to 2018 were stowaways in lorries, but after two decades of investment by the UK and France in security at the port of Calais, the lorry route became increasingly unviable. 

But, rather than stop people from arriving, these border controls stimulated innovation and risk-taking. 

In 2018, a few hundred asylum seekers arrived in small boats, and others followed. 

The departure point could now be anywhere, which made it harder to control than the ports, and in just five years, the number of people arriving in this way has ballooned – reaching more than 45,000 in 2022 – and as a result, they have become a huge part of the UK’s migration debate.

Radical and divisive, and at odds with conventions

The UK’s response has been as divisive as it is radical.

In 2022, Priti Patel, then Home Secretary, agreed a deal with the government of Rwandan dictator Paul Kagame that meant asylum seekers who had arrived in the UK by “dangerous” routes (mainly presumed to mean small boats) would be sent to have their claims assessed and decided by the African state. 

If they were successful, refugee status would be granted in Rwanda, not the UK. This offshoring approach was written into UK law as part of the 2022 Nationality and Borders Act.

Just a year later, the new Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, has put forward a new bill, provocatively called the Illegal Migration Bill

This will prevent the Home Office from hearing the asylum claims of anyone who entered the UK without authorisation and compel the Home Secretary to detain them and then remove them to a safe third country where their asylum claim can be heard.

Predictably enough, the policy has been strongly criticised, not only by civil society organisations, the Labour Party and opponents of the UK government but also by UN bodies such as UNHCR and IOM – who have put forward the view that the policy is at odds with the 1951 Refugee Convention and risks undermining the global protection system for refugees and putting them in peril.

Immigration policy does not act as a deterrent

But while both the Nationality and Borders Act and the Illegal Migration Bill have generated a political and media storm, and much debate about the morality of what has been put forward, the more basic challenges for these policies are operational.

At the time of writing, Rwanda is the only country with which the UK has a removals agreement, and – as a result of legal challenges – has led to the grand total of zero removals from the UK. 

Even if it does get up and running, its capacity will be limited. 

If irregular arrivals continue at their present rate, and we make a (generous) assumption that the UK might manage to remove 10,000 people to Rwanda per year, this would address only a fraction of those arriving without authorisation.

The UK is also struggling to find capacity to hold the tens of thousands of asylum seekers the bill will require the state to detain pending their removal.

Some government ministers have asserted that the UK will not need to deal with this many people because of the deterrent effect of the policy. 

But academic research suggests that asylum seekers tend not to be aware of migration policy in destination countries, which implies that they are unlikely to be deterred by it

Instead, the small share of asylum seekers who want specifically to come to the UK tend to be motivated by other factors, such as the presence of family and community members, the English language, and colonial ties.

Net migration hit record highs – yet small boat arrivals are a fraction

At the same time, government decision-making on asylum has almost ground to a halt. 

The result is a backlog of more than 160,000 people who are in the UK awaiting an initial decision on their asylum claim. 

The available housing for these people is considerably less than the demand for places, which has resulted in more than 50,000 asylum seekers being put up in hotels at enormous cost to the taxpayer.

This array of challenging situations, radical solutions, and furious arguments has dominated the headlines in the UK for months. 

But in the meanwhile, some equally radical things have gone almost under the radar. 

Yet these are equally worth remembering, as they highlight the complexity of UK attitudes toward migration.

Last year, net migration hit more than half a million – five times the level promised by the government in 2010 – driven mainly by the UK’s acceptance of more than 200,000 Ukrainians and people from Hong Kong who were issued visas under “bespoke humanitarian schemes”. 

There has been considerably less public concern about these schemes or the record levels of net migration than there has been about 45,000 small boat arrivals.

Why? It seems reasonable to assume that at least part of the reason is that these programmes have facilitated legal entry to the UK and are not perceived to be evidence of failures of control.

Who benefits from the permacrisis?

What does this tell us about how the UK might resolve the migration permacrisis? 

Well, it seems that a high absolute number of migrants does not (at least currently) appear to be a problem per se, and neither does the issue of people in need of humanitarian protection.

Perhaps the real reason we face a permacrisis is that some people benefit from it: media organisations like to report simple stories about problems and solutions, so politicians like to present complex and nuanced issues in this simplified way – as problems that they can offer to “control”.

Rob McNeil serves as the Deputy Director of The Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford.

At Euronews, we believe all views matter. Contact us at [email protected] to send pitches or submissions and be part of the conversation.

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‘Welcome to a filthy, littered dump called Britain’

“The situation is dire,” said John Read of Clean Up Britain. “We have a serious problem with litter in the UK. I’d go so far as to say it’s an epidemic.”

Drive along Britain’s roads recently and you’ll probably have noticed something: Litter. And lots of it.

Cigarette butts, beer bottles, cans, fast food wrappers, bin bags, plastic sheeting and white goods — to name just a few — are strewn in verges and laybys up and down the country.

“Britain is a naturally beautiful country, but right now it looks like a landfill,” said Read, who has campaigned on the issue for more than 12 years. “It’s shameful for international visitors to come here and see how filthy our country is.”

“The rubbish is a terrible statement about a country in decline,” he added.

In 2015, a Parliamentary Select Committee compared England with countries in Europe, Japan and North America, concluding it was arguably the most littered nation in the West. 

Not only an eye sore in Britain’s picturesque countryside, roadside litter also has a devastating environmental impact.

Toxins from the waste leach into the soil and waterways, while the RSPCA – an animal protection charity – says it receives 10 calls a day about animals affected by litter.

Responsibility for Britain’s unsightly roadsides lies with local authorities, who typically own verges and lay-bys of minor roads, while National Highways is obligated to collect litter from England’s motorways and major roads. 

Read claimed the extent of the problem meant they were “breaking the law every day”, while simultaneously allowing offenders to get away scot-free by not enforcing fines on offenders.

Under UK law, landowners and occupiers have a duty to keep land clear of litter and refuse for which they are responsible.

Yet, Read pointed out that “huge” budget cuts in recent years have been “instrumental” in causing the problem, though added this was only part of the story.

According to the Institute of Fiscal Studies, local councils in England have seen an average cut to their budgets of almost 26 per cent since 2010.

Meanwhile, the Insitute for Government found last year the ruling Conservative party had “hollowed out” local government services, including refuse collection.

‘Antisocial, selfish, ignorant behaviour’

However, Read was sceptical of what he called “easy excuses”, calling it a “typical British attitude” to blame someone else.

“A significant number of Britons are selfish, lazy and ignorant,” he said. “Maybe 60% of what we see has been thrown out by irresponsible, anti-social idiots – of which Britain has got many.”

The causes of roadside litter are varied. 

Alongside deliberate action, much waste blows off the back of trucks or lorries. Plus the endemic use of single-use plastics and excess packaging also plays a part in the problem.

“If we’re ever to have a chance of returning England to a clean and pleasant land. We have to start off with a mass cleanup,” said Read. “Britain’s problem is that has become a social norm that the country looks like a cesspit.”

In the meantime, ordinary people are left picking up the pieces – quite literally.

Volunteers organise clean-ups of their local area – often on the weekends – while groups such as Read’s raise awareness of the problem and put pressure on the authorities to act.

This week, Clean Up Britain launched a 10-point plan to clean up Britain’s roads, which advocated for several measures, including £1,000 (€1,135) fines for offenders, and printing vehicle registration plates on fast foot packaging as a way to shame culprits. 

‘Environmental anarchy’

According to Read, such volunteer action was needed amid an epidemic of inaction – by both local authorities and central government.

“I’m not surprised nothing happens,” said Read. “They [officials] are lacking inspiration. They’re lacking vision, they’re lacking energy, and lacking the ability to see the bigger picture as to what needs to be done.”

A Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs spokesperson said: “Littering blights our communities, spoils our countryside, harms our wildlife, and taxpayers’ money is wasted cleaning it up.”

“We are committed to supporting local councils to tackle littering – that is why we have awarded nearly £1m to help councils purchase new bins, provided powers to fines to those caught littering and shared guidance on effective enforcement.”

A litter strategy in England was first published by the government in 2017. It set out 36 “commitments and actions… “to clean up the country and the country and deliver a substantial reduction in litter and littering within a generation.”

“There’s absolutely zero leadership on this issue from the government. [Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs] Thérèse Coffey has done nothing,” said Read.

“There’s an arrogant silence and a failure to engage with anyone that doesn’t suit their echo chamber”.

The government and water companies have come under fire for widespread endemic raw sewage leaks in Britain, which are threatening human health, marine life and fishing.

“It’s a state of anarchy that’s a searing indictment on the government that bangs on about… absolute rubbish,” Read told Euronews. “It’s all talk no action, which, of course, is what most politicians are about.” 

“They’ve completely failed.” 

In a statement sent to Euronews, National Highways Head of Customer Journeys, Freda Rashdi said: “Littering is a social problem across the country and we’re working hard to tackle it on our roads. We regularly carry out litter-picking activities across our roads and are actively exploring other initiatives to address this problem.”

“It includes using CCTV in A-road laybys to gather evidence to provide to local authorities, who can carry out enforcement, as well as installing larger bins.”

“But if people don’t drop litter in the first place it wouldn’t need to be picked up – so we urge road users to take their litter home instead of throwing it out of their windows,” she added.

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Tom Nichols wrote whole thread about how ‘East Jesus’ red staters are obsessed with people like him

According to our records, we haven’t done a post about Tom Nichols in just over two months. And, frankly, we’re starting to miss him. Or at least we’re starting to miss kicking him around.

So let’s check on him and see what he’s up to these days. Something expert-y? You bet your boots, it is!

This time, it looks like it’s GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s dumb “national divorce” tweet that got his creative juices flowing:

Greene’s tweet got Tom to thinking about rage in the red states, and he decided to do a whole thread on the subject:

“As I explain in my last book.” This will not be the last time in Tom’s thread that you hear about his last book.

“East Jesus Pancake House” is definitely a line worthy of an Area Expert™ like Tom Nichols. He never disappoints.

Eh, not that similar … after all, Tom Nichols is better than you. Don’t forget that, you red-state rubes.

And if you’d like to hear more of Tom’s thoughts about how the people of East Jesus who feel overlooked and dismissed by the dominant liberal culture are just obsessed with blue states, be sure to read his book:

That was quite a thread, wasn’t it?

Now let’s talk about how stupid and embarrassing and projection-y it was.

“Could make a black hole choke.” See now, Tom, that’s a good line.

Tom wrote a whole thread about how people in East Jesus, USA, are obsessed with people like him, because Tom doesn’t care what people in East Jesus, USA, think.

Tom is not going to be winning any prizes for self-awareness anytime soon.

Just perfect.


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PhD. discovers conservatives are ACTUALLY saying whatever they want on podcasts and REEE (thread)

Conservatives … saying whatever they want?! OH NOEZ!

Not WHATEVER they want.


WHATEVER they want!

How can this be?!

You know the face you make when you look to see where your DoorDasher is and you see they’re going the wrong direction and they’ve already picked up your food? Yeah, just made that face. Seems this PhD. spent a long time collecting data about conservatives saying whatever they want on podcasts.

Can’t make this up.

Now, she claims this study was done over 36k shows from across the political spectrum.

But it’s interesting how she only seems to focus on mean ol’ conservatives saying whatever they want.

Which external fact-checks did she use?

Which dictionary?

Wanna bet it was PolitiFact or Snopes?

In fact, there are even MORE conservatives than she documented out there saying WHATEVER they want.




This though …

We’ve seen firsthand what the government and public health were doing with messaging, narrative, and media … did it ever occur to this doctor that maybe these ‘false claims’ were conservatives trying to get the TRUTH out there?


Two years doing this.

Holy cow, did someone pay for this?

Yay academia. *eye roll*

The Guardian.

Because of course.

Guess how her data is going over?

Psh, sense of humor?! NEVER.



Yeah, we notice these deep dives ever really only go one way, and then when the Right does their own deep dive we see garbage like this.

She spent two years collecting this data.


Ruh-roh, there’s someone else saying whatever they want.

Better write that down.

The nerve.



TikToker hilariously DECIMATES trans-activists hating on Hogwarts Legacy over J.K. Rowling (watch)

THIS –> Matt Taibbi takes Democrat’s big ‘Chrissy Teigen censored’ GOTCHA apart in 1 perfect tweet

HUGE: Whistleblower exposes St. Louis Children’s Hospital Gender Clinic in DAMNING thread


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