Did you know that the UK takes far fewer ‘asylum seekers’, (that is, people just like you and me, except they are fleeing war, torture, or other terrible things they never asked for or wanted) than Germany, France, or Spain? I point this out because according to the UK government these people are “swarming” over here to claim their free houses, cars, phones, clothing, Netflix subscriptions, and iPads. And that’s before they get off the beach!
According to the Westminster government’s own web portal, asylum seekers get £45 per week, and that is to buy food, toiletries, and clothing. Really, £45 per week. That doesn’t cover the basic necessities does it? They’re not allowed to work for more. So why do some politicians lie so blatantly to us about this?
Who’s claiming benefits?
Let’s take just a cursory glance at who claims more benefits, asylum seekers or MPs.
An MP in the UK earns £86,584 per year. On top of that they are given money to run an office and pay staff. They are given money to run a second home and money to pay for travel. They are given a daily food allowance, too.
Ministers earn additional pay. Ministers and prime ministers who leave or are replaced in their roles get more money again. Last year Michelle Donelan MP received a three-month severance payment worth almost £17,000 despite being Education Secretary for less than two days. She said she’d donate it to a local charity, though I can find no reporting since that she did so. Sky News analysed House of Commons library data last October and found that “Britain’s year of political turmoil” and turnover had already cost the taxpayer up to £709,000 in severance payments to former ministers and whips.
All of the above is paid on top of the £86,584 per year that they earn as your MPs. I should also point out that the Houses of Parliament has subsidised bars and restaurants (subsidised by you and me) in which they can eat fine foods and quaff fine wines while ‘at work’. Some people do drugs there. According to Martin Williams of openDemocracy we, yes, you and me, subsidised parliamentary restaurants and bars to the tune of £17mn in just three years. That’s a lot of pan-fried salmon with samphire washed down with a top drawer Sauvignon Blanc for just a few quid.
A lot of MPs get to do a lot of taxpayer-funded foreign travel as well. Lots of time on planes and helicopters practicing lies and parroted talking points.
Pay the nurses? Apparently we can’t afford that. Why? “Let’s blame people fleeing war and torture.”
Fund the NHS? “Er … let’s talk about the small boats.”
Maintain our schools? “Did we mention immigrants?”
My mortgage is crippling me now thanks to Liz Truss, Jeremy Hunt, and interest rates. “Small boats small boats small boats small boats.”
Somewhere to live
Asylum seekers do have a right to somewhere to live according to the government website, but that somewhere to live is often overcrowded B&Bs, and apparently soon-to-be cell-like rooms on floating barges. Nice eh? You can do your own fact-checking if you like, please don’t just take my word. Please don’t just take anybody’s word. Ten minutes or so spent comparing Google results from reputable sites, including Gov.UK, to government words can be quite revealing.
Of course, let’s not forget that most asylum seekers are ‘just young men coming over here for a better life, they’re not even genuine cases’, as Home Secretary Suella Braverman, the daughter of migrants, loves to say. But it’s just not true.
In fact, 73% of all young male asylum applications were approved in 2021, according to the Home Office’s own data. This means that they were proven to be genuine cases and not, as the Home Secretary would have you believe, fakers. 52% of people whose asylum applications are denied are granted refugee status on appeal.
According to Refugee Action, “the vast majority of refugees globally – four out of every five – stay in their region of displacement, and consequently are hosted by developing countries.” Turkey hosts the highest number of refugees with 3.7 mn, followed by Colombia with 1.7mn. Climate change will increase numbers yet more.
By making it so difficult for people fleeing war and torture to get here, and live here, this government is also playing into the hands of organised crime. You know, the nice chaps who charge these poor souls a fortune to get on a small boat and then at the first sign of trouble leave them to drown.
So, over to you
The fact is, we could stop the boats tomorrow if we just laid on a ferry. It would save the fortune we are spending on trying to police the channel crossings and the criminals would be out of business. We would have much more control over immigration because we would control the means of getting across the channel. Not to mention the immeasurable benefits of just being kind, and observing the international laws we ourselves helped write then signed up to.
If you think that the UK government spends your tax money and all the money they borrow in your name wisely, that’s your right.
If you think it’s right and proper for MPs to be subsidised (by you) for fine dining and drinks at work, that’s your right.
If you think it’s right for the government to be able to hand out billions and billions of pounds worth of Covid-related contracts with little scrutiny or value for money, that’s your right.
If you think the government could afford to pay the nurses, maintain our schools, and fund the NHS, and help people fleeing war and torture, if they stopped mismanaging public (yes, you and me again) money, that also is your right.
But if you are one of the many who think their pocket is being picked on a regular basis, remember this: it isn’t being picked by those fleeing war and torture.
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