Here in Ghana people are stunned by the announcement that a bond of £3,000 will have to be submitted by visa applicants to the UK, redeemable on return.
It is unpleasant for a nation to be singled out as comprised of particularly untrustworthy individuals against whom special measures are needed. Theresa May appears quite deliberately to be singling out countries whose citizens are normally black or brown – India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Ghana and Nigeria. They are all citizens with extremely close ties to the UK. For example, all of those countries supplied large numbers of men to British armed forces in two World Wars; with little resulting gratitude.
The true level of Britain’s regard for the Commonwealth is disclosed in all its arrogance; citizenship of the Commonwealth countries with the longest link to the UK will become a positive disadvantage in visa application. Israeli settlers living in Occupied Palestine on the West Bank, incidentally, will still be allowed to enter the UK without any visa at all, despite membership of neither Commonwealth nor EU. Paradoxical, isn’t it?
The measure shows the arrogant British disdain for these countries – of which India pre-eminently but also Ghana are fast growing and important trading partners. Undoubtedly Ghana will retaliate with measures which hurt British businesses; many of my good friends are senior Ghanaian politicians, and they are all furious. The rhetoric the British employ about transformation from colonial status to a modern partnership of equals is exposed for the tissue of lies it has always been. This is a straightforward racist measure, aimed at securing the racist vote to the Tories.
Not does it make any sense. If you are intending to enter the UK under false pretences, and have the intent illegally to settle and start a new life there, then £3,000 is scarcely a deterrent given the substantial economic gains you intend to make over the long period you intend to stay. It will rather seem a good investment; people will find the money. The people it will deter are those who never intended to overstay. The extra cash upfront, to the businessman for a business trip, for the student coming to study, for the tourist will drive them to go elsewhere, to the UK’s net loss.
More cruelly it will deter decent middle class people from coming to see grandchildren in the holidays, from going to the niece’s wedding, from going to graduation. Those things will become the prerogative of the wealthy, those with plenty of cash to spare.
This does nothing to deter illegal immigration. It merely demonstrates populist racism, demonstrates contempt for some of the UK’s best-disposed friends, and demonstrates that the government thinks the right to travel is only for the rich. It is contemptible.