Turkey: the deal stumbles forward
Despite recent media suggestions that the lollipops offered to Turkey to sweeten the migrant deal had got stuck in the European Council, they seem to have squeaked through. So Turkey is set to get €6 billion — no small sum — plus visa-free Schengen access in June, and “accelerated accession talks” (though there’s muttering behind hands that accession may be “difficult”).
Nonetheless, Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan seems to have done well. He gets what are seen in Turkey as huge benefits, and in exchange — what? No net change in migrant numbers on either side. Just a few vague promises about tightening the borders (which on the Turkish side seems to consist of soldiers puncturing migrant inflatables with sharp sticks). Truly, as Dan Hannan has said, Prime Minister Erdogan is a much more effective negotiator with Brussels than David Cameron.
There is the other point that the processing of migrants on Greek islands is likely to present insuperable difficulties. They’re already planning to send improbable numbers of judges and clerks and administrators and translators to these remote locations. But each migrant (under laws that never envisaged migration on this scale) is entitled to a personal hearing. And worse, they can appeal against an adverse decision. There’ll be a cottage industry advising them how to stretch the process and cause confusion. This show could run and run until it collapses under the weight of its own absurdity.
There is a fundamental problem with the assumptions of the Geneva Convention. We are supposed to distinguish between refugees, on the one hand, and other migrants including economic migrants on the other. The fact is that amongst this vast mass of humanity, it may be possible to identify some refugees, and some economic migrants. But given the numbers and the way they arrived, often without papers, I suspect the result for the great majority will be “don’t know”. What are we to do? Let them all come? That would be close to Merkel’s disastrous open door policy. We need new thinking for a new age of migration. We can no longer stretch rules made decades ago.
My Question Time remarks make the Sunday Express
My warnings about immigration, and the probability that it will rise massively if we remain in the EU, are featured in the Sunday Express. A pretty fair report.
Government under stress
There have been two major pieces of bad news for the government in the last couple of days. And remember that for practical purposes the government and the Remain Campaign are one and the same.
First, Osborne’s budget was poorly received. It was an attempt to get the middle classes on-side with tax breaks. But the disabled welfare provisions caused great up-set — and not just amongst the disabled. Even those who take a tough stance on taxes and welfare were shocked. I was also shocked that Osborne, with a reputation as a “political” Chancellor, should score such an own goal. He has been humiliated, and his leadership hopes have suffered a major blow. I believe his Remain Campaign has also suffered a blow. If the Chancellor can’t get the Budget right, which should we truest him with a major constitutional question — especially when previous Chancellors have been coming forward to take the alternative view? “Tory Party at war” says the Observer.
Then second, IDS’s resignation. Say what you will about IDS, he is a man of decency, honesty and integrity. The subsequent orchestrated attacks on him by government spokesman (including Ros Altmann) were synthetic and demeaning to the government. The Sunday Times headline: “IDS attack shreds ‘unfit’ Osborne’s dream of Number 10”. The Telegraph: “Knives out for Osborne in Tory backlash”. One almost feels sorry for him. And the Mail: “Outraged Cameron’s four-letter tirade at ‘fraud’ IDS”