Sunak holds a cabinet meeting with Tory ministers

As Tory MPs feud over how to be brutal towards refugees, the fatal cost of their racism was shown as five people drowned in the icy waters of the Channel. They were trying to reach Britain from northern France on a boat. 

They take such appalling risks because Tory laws—mostly backed by Labour—block all the safe routes. Those who died were part of a group of more than 70 people attempting to board boats off the Wimereux on Sunday. The Stand Up To Racism campaign group said, “We need safe passage now, not anti-refugee rhetoric from a government that has real people’s blood on its hands.”

The first four people found dead were identified as Iraqi and Syrian, according to local media. They had fled the devastation caused by wars launched or boosted by Western imperialism. Yet those same countries reject those people when they try to come here. As well as the Tories, the French government is also guilty. 

The French pro-refugee and migrant group Utopia 56 tweeted, “While five people died last night off the coast of Calais, a convoy of riot cops is in the process of evicting people from places of refuge in the city. The shipwreck’s survivors have already been returned to the streets.”

This week the Tory Rwanda Bill was set to return to parliament. It seeks to ram though deportation flights to Africa without people being able to claim asylum. It declares Rwanda a “safe country” whether that fits reality for refugees or not—and it doesn’t.

Even last week documents sent to MPs by home secretary James Cleverly admitted that “While Rwanda is now a relatively peaceful country, there are nevertheless issues with its human rights record around political opposition to the current regime, dissent and free speech.”

Rishi Sunak’s viciously racist bill was set to face opposition this week from some Tories who want it to be even more brutal. In December the bill passed the Commons by 313 votes to 269. But afterwards, the leaders of the Tories “five families” of MPs claimed they would give the government the chance to “toughen up” the bill, but would oppose it at the next opportunity if they didn’t get what they wanted.

The divisions come as a major poll featured in the Daily Telegraph predicted a Labour majority of 120 at the next election. Sunak wants to use racism to deflect from the government’s crimes. Everyone needs to stand opposed to their scapegoating and turn their anger on the real enemies—the bosses and the politicians who support them.

Prison barge inhumanity continues

The roommate of an Albanian asylum seeker who is believed to have taken his own life on the Bibby Stockholm prison barge in Dorset says others may harm themselves if conditions on the barge do not improve. Yusuf Deen Kargbo was sharing a room with Leonard Farruku when he was found unresponsive, early on 12 December. Kargbo told BBC News he felt the barge was unsafe and he knew of others on board who were struggling to cope.

Last month, at the opening of his inquest, Dorset’s coroner heard Farruku’s cause of death was neck compression as a result of hanging. His funeral is due to be held in Albania this week.

Labour MP Nadia Whittome recently visited the people on the barge and wrote, “The Bibby Stockholm’s cruelty is just the tip of the iceberg—it’s a symbol of the inhumanity throughout our asylum system. The government wants to pit migrants against local communities in a fight for services and resources. All our services have been vandalised not by migrants but by Conservative governments.”

Unfortunately Labour offers no better alternative to the Tories, and even wants to speed up deportations.

Refugees left in mouldy housing

Accommodation used to house tens of thousands of asylum seekers, often the worst in the Britain when it comes to damp and mould, will be excluded from new laws on landlords managing social housing.

Bridget Young, the director of Naccom which provides support for asylum seekers said, “Not extending these protections to people in asylum accommodation creates a two-tier system of housing standards. The exclusion puts asylum seekers “disproportionately at risk of harm” and leads to differential treatment of refugees in the housing sector, she said.

“It cannot be right that Home Office accommodation contractors are allowed to make huge profits, often at the expense of people’s health and safety.”

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