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Alistair Carmichael describes" the reality of the journey that brings so many people to our shores"

September 18, 2021 10:55 AM


How desperate do you have to be to entrust the safety of your children to someone you have never met - someone to whom you have had to pay a fee - not to take them in a modern purpose-built ferry but in an open inflatable boat across a busy shipping lane like the channel or some other stretch of water.

Imagine where that desperation started.

We saw it this year - people trying to climb aboard planes in the airport in Kabul.

For hundreds of thousands of people it is the desperation of that journey that leads them to take these risks

That is the reality of the journey that brings so many people to our shores.

In Marsham Street, London.

I don't know if that reality is just not understood here, in the Home Office.

I don't know if our Home Secretary lacks the empathy or imagination to put herself in the place of these desperate people who take these risks to get to our shores.

But I DO know that her response to that growing crisis shames our country.

Her response to people fleeing from war, persecution or torture is to send boats out to the middle of the English Channel and force them back towards France as if she is playing some sort of life size game of whack-a-mole.

Except it is no game.

This summer we saw Tory MPs queuing up to criticise the RNLI - the Royal National Lifeboat Institution - for doing what they exist to do, saving lives at sea.

In their world we are all divided - we are either sheep or goats - the deserving or the undeserving poor.

In this party we reject their division but understand this - if they persist in pursuing a politics of poison and division then the Liberal Democrats will always be on the side of the weak, the dispossessed and the desperate.

That is why I feel it to be both such a privilege and a responsibility to lead the Liberal Democrat Home Affairs team in parliament.

Week in, and week out, working with colleagues in the House of Lords and in the party across the country.

People like the formidable Suzanne Fletcher who for so long played such an important role in this party with Liberal Democrats for Seekers of Sanctuary.

Watch the whole speech here