It feels a grotesque irony that this is being written on the day on which Christians witness to the punishment of a blameless individual.
That is how our government proposes to treat the victims of people-smugglers; punished for aspiring to a life in the United Kingdom, punished for putting their lives at risk in the absence of safer and accessible means of asking for asylum here.
Moreover, if the government believes this will deter desperate people with little else to lose, then that alone exposes the twisted and heartless logic of their position.
Migration is one of those European issues on which common sense would see the UK working in concert with the other countries of Europe.
We all have refugees, and yes, economic migrants, knocking on our doors. We all have pressures on public services, and we all have ageing populations with tens of thousands of unfilled jobs in multiple sectors which should be generating tax revenue and providing economic stimulus.
If we had a government focused on workable solutions, we would be sharing the cost of multinational asylum and visa application centres in the capitals of countries from or through which the bulk of migrants come.
Instead we have a government intent on a massively expensive and cruel scheme that panders to the populist vote which it thinks, at the May polls, will save its bacon and that of its law-breaking Prime Minister.
Publishing this scheme when Parliament’s not sitting and the nation’s intent on other things, whether the first holiday in two years or the observance of Holy Week, Passover, and Ramadan, is a cynical ploy.
It is also an insult to our ability to come up with solutions that truly reflect the European values for which the Prime Minister says rightly we are aiding Ukraine.
Graham Jones – Chair, European Movement Oxford Region