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NST Leader: No asylum seekers please, we are British

POST-BREXIT Britain under Prime Minister Boris Johnson sure knows how to turn refugees fleeing violence into criminals. On Monday, the Nationality and Borders Bill, which does just that, had its second reading in the House of Commons.

Home Secretary Priti Patel had so many "enoughs" in her opening speech that it reverberated like Greece's 162-decibel sound cannons used to drive away asylum seekers.

Britain must be told that there are things we should learn from Greece and there are things we shouldn't. Border control is one of the "shouldn'ts". As some non-governmental organisations seem to suggest, Anti-Refugees Bill may have been a better name for it.

The NGOs' dismay is understandable. If Britain has a refugee problem, which Patel says it has, the Nationality and Borders Bill isn't going to solve it. Here is why.

Firstly, most of the refugees, if not all, are fleeing conflicts and violence at home. In some places, Britain and its allies are the cause of the conflicts and violence. Take Iraq and Afghanistan. Start with Iraq.

There, it helped the United States invent the lie of president Saddam Hussein having "weapons of mass destruction" to justify their invasion. In Afghanistan, it was the excuse of "a war on terror".

All of 20 years. In both these places, Britain and the US have caused a forever war. It is only natural to expect the Iraqis and Afghans to escape to the safe shores of the countries that caused the conflicts. As they say, it cuts both ways.

Britain has a moral duty to welcome the refugees, and not criminalise them, as the bill seeks to do. If Britain truly wants to stop the flow of refugees, the solution lies elsewhere.

Britain must first stop causing conflicts and violence in the home countries of the refugees. The home secretary should know that people don't choose to be refugees. Patel would have done better if she had read the history of British invasions before drafting the "enough-is-enough" speech.

Frankly, if at all anyone should say "enough-is-enough", it is the refugees. True, Britain isn't the only nation that is the cause of conflicts. Europe is dotted with countries that are invasion-happy.

Where it has formed an alliance of invasion, Britain and its allies must jointly share the granting of asylums to the refugees. Empires may not strike back, but their people do.

Secondly, as the home secretary acknowledges, the refugees aren't the criminals. Human traffickers are. Slave traders should have been the real focus of the bill. Refugee Council, a charity, is rightly concerned.

Speaking to inews.co.uk, a London digital daily, the charity's head, Enver Solomon, says the bill will criminalise 9,000 refugees fleeing war and persecution who would otherwise have been granted asylum under the present rules.

If Solomon is right, Patel must be wrong, especially when she says the bill "will increase the fairness of our system so that we can better protect and support those in genuine need of asylum".

Finally, the bill's intent to send refugees home or to the countries they passed through on their way to Britain is, to put it bluntly, silly.

Someone please tell Patel that the refugees are running away from war and persecution.

As for third countries, France and Greece want them out, not in. Political theatrics? Sure reads like one.

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