The Home Office began housing asylum seekers in disused army barracks around September last year and in that time their use has been a regular feature in the news. The Penally Camp in Tenby, West Wales, which was used for this purpose, was closed in March following an inspection that found it totally unsuitable and unsafe. Napier Barracks, an even larger site housing asylum seekers in Kent, remains open and is thought to house a population of around 250 individuals.
It is almost six months since I initially wrote on the appalling decision by the UK government to cut foreign aid by £4bn across the world. At the time, the government’s decision was met by disbelief. While the whole world struggled with the pandemic, the UK chose to insulate themselves and cut funds to those that need it most around the globe.
The UK is officially no longer institutionally racist, and in fact we should be seen as a shining example to other white-majority countries when it comes to tackling racism. These were just some of the conclusions of the recent Sewell Report, published by the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities.
It is now almost 10 months since the tragic death of George Floyd and the ensuing global anti-racism protests. With the trial of Derek Chauvin, the police officer that caused the death of George Floyd, set to begin in the coming weeks, it is a good time to assess where we are in terms of the eradication of racism in the UK.
Last June, I asked whether we in Britain would be happy turning our back on unaccompanied child refugees. Eight months on and the government look to have concluded that they would be happy with exactly that. This comes following a response by the Immigration Minister Chris Philp to a question posed by Labour MP Alex Sobel in January.
With the first day of 2021 marking our exit from the European Union this was always going to be a year of significant change, and tightening immigration, one of the key promises of the Brexit campaign, was always going to be one of the first of these changes to occur. Unsurprisingly, the government moved to do just that in December when they introduced a change to the rules surrounding asylum cases.
To say that 2020 has been an unusual year is an understatement. The COVID-19 pandemic, and the package of government measures introduced in response, continue to dramatically impact our day-to-day lives. Even the most ordinary activities are subject to myriad restrictions and we find ourselves consciously weighing up the potential risks that even the simplest acts pose to others. In these respects, the pandemic has highlighted issues that form the crux of debates concerning human rights and civil liberties.
Another week, another U-turn. For anyone that follows British politics this will not come at a surprise. If anything, the U-turn has become a trademark of the current UK government and a defining feature of their first year in power. These U-turns have for the most part been welcomed, generally reversing a course of action that was clearly misjudged and did not align with the will of the British people, but the latest is rather more callous.
It was recently announced that a man had been charged with terrorism offences for a far-right attack at the offices of Duncan Lewis Solicitors in Harrow. The man had entered the firm in September brandishing a knife and threatened to kill a member of staff. The prosecution now allege that he was planning to take a solicitor hostage and fly both the Nazi flag and that of the US Confederacy, both of which were in his possession, from their office.
On 23 September 2020, Parliament voted in favour of the Overseas Operations Bill after its second reading. The Bill is part of the government’s plans to prevent ‘vexatious’ claims against military personnel, but Human Rights Watch have suggested that the Bill could prevent individuals being prosecuted for legitimate war crimes.