52% of our electorate demanded we 'take control of our borders'. Nigel Farage, the former leader of the UK Independence Party, produced this poster as his contribution to the Leave campaign:
And he called Remainers Scaremongers! I sincerely hope not a single Leaver decided to vote because of this poster. But perhaps our leaving the EU can awaken something far more valuable to us, and to the world. Our humanity and decency. Let's use the decision to control our borders to enable us to be more WELCOMING to people who really need our help, rather than people who want to simply exercise their right to be here because their own EU country is letting them down. If we need specific skills from other countries, there's nothing to stop us letting them in. So this is our chance to be selective about who we need, and welcoming to those who need us.
I want to propose that there's a humanitarian aspect about wanting to manage our borders - which nobody on either side of the vote mentioned - and that is to open our borders, in a well-managed but humanitarian way, to refugees originating from outside the EU. If desperate people who really do need a safe haven can't be welcomed with open arms and supported by relatively wealthy British people (please watch the recent BBC2 3-part documentary called Exodus - and if you don't cry, you're not human), then I'm living in the wrong country.
Refugees have historically proven themselves to be hugely valuable to the places where they settle. I'm third generation refugee myself. Refugees have no safety net or cushion to fall back on if their endeavors don't work out. These are people who are determined to work as hard as they can for as much as they can get, instead of as little as they can for as much as they can get. I know who I'd rather employ. They're often highly skilled. They are leaving their homes, friends and families not because they want to, but because they have to. Every single person in that poster line of refugees wishes they were somewhere else. No-one wishes they could join them. No-one wants to be a refugee. I don't believe there is a floodgate of Arabs, Asians and Africans waiting to live in British camps. I believe it's in all of our best interests that if they agree to the following terms, they should be made very welcome:
- Learn English
- Learn about and agree to respect our laws and customs (including defending equality for all beliefs, genders, sexual persuasions, races, disabilities etc)
- Agree to train for jobs where we need specific skills (I haven't thought this through, but I'm not suggesting labour camps)
- Allow their children to be educated in non-faith schools where they are taught what open minds can achieve (as opposed to what the alternative has done to their homes)
- Contribute towards helping their homelands regenerate by agreeing to pay a proportion of their earnings over a certain minimum into foreign aid funds like Help the Children and MSF
We must not become the xenophobic nation our Brexit vote and that poster imply. Let's demonstrate to the world that the UK has a bigger heart than anyone else. If we're not going to open our doors to well fed Europeans, let's open them to starving helpless people who have nothing. Let's be the nation of opportunity, not one of greed and fear. Make Brexit a statement of the good we can do. Let's become a beacon of hope to the world that belonging to the EU might otherwise be preventing us from lighting.
Let's make the world ashamed they're not British!