First published in January 2021.

Okay, let’s break this down shall we? First of all, and after more than four years, I would have hoped that even Nigel Farage would have gotten this one right, the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) is not an EU institution. Brexit was never going to have an impact on it.

The ECHR is a fairly well regarded piece of international law which ensures that signatory countries are bound by a respect for human rights, “people like us rights”.

I am sure that Nigel Farage would be among the first to complain if he felt his human rights were violated. So, Brexit or not, complaining that we are still bound by the ECHR is a fairly disingenuous argument by Farage, as he knew it would always be the case.

What about his claims about people’s views on immigration though, and its role as a driver for Brexit?

Attitudes towards immigration have, as demonstrated by multiple surveys, softened towards immigration over the last few years. In fact, as much as Nigel Farage is sure to disagree, they have been softening for quite some time longer than that.

How discussion influences voters’ attitudes towards post-Brexit immigration and regulation.
The UK government has spent the last year negotiating a Brexit deal that maximises the ability of the UK to diverge from EU regulation. But is this what voters will necessarily want? This Deliberative Poll raises doubts.

Note though how Farage relates “illegal immigrants” to other areas of the immigration debate, such as deportations, throughout the article. There is quite a lot to unpick with this particular narrative, but here goes.

First, and most obviously, there is absolutely nothing illegal about crossing the channel. Pandemic related restrictions aside, anyone can do it should they so wish. That hasn’t changed even with Brexit. You could do it yourself should you so wish.

Secondly, an asylum seeker is protected by international law in their right to enter a country by any means necessary in order to seek asylum. It is a fundamental part of refugee law, again not related in any way shape or form to the UK’s membership of the EU.

Indeed, it was even the UK High Court which set down in case law, and this again is also supported by international law and UN Guidance, that an asylum seeker may cross multiple countries without penalty until they reach one they feel safe in.

What Nigel Farage does though is conflate deportations with asylum seekers. It is not a bad trick if you are trying to stoke outrage, but it is a trick nonetheless.

There is a huge debate to be had regarding deportations in general.

My personal view is that we are talking about a secondary punishment after someone as served their sentence based purely on where they are born. That makes it discriminatory.

I don’t deny it is an emotive subject though, which is why Nigel Farage weaponises it here.

Nigel Farage. | Gage Skidmore
Nigel Farage speaking with supporters of Donald Trump at a MAGA campaign rally in Arizona, 28 October 2020.

On a sidenote, when Farage reuses the phrases put out by Priti Patel such as “do-gooder lawyers” he not only ignores that it is judges who make decisions based on the law, but also that these phrases have already led to at least one far-right attack against a lawyer.

Being kind, up until now in the piece though Nigel Farage has mainly been disingenuous in his comments.

It is here where he breaks out into outright lies though.

The UK could not “simply return” asylum seekers to France. There are multiple reasons here which go beyond anything Brexit related, but the main one being it would violate international law. Refugees have the right to have their claim heard.

His use of 80% is likewise unsupported by evidence.

In fact, 54% of applications were successful on initial decisions with about half of appeals then recognising an asylum seekers claim. In reality the vast majority of those who apply are found to be “legitimate” claims.

Again though, this has nothing to do with Brexit, or even Foreign National Offenders. Asylum seekers are protected under international law, for the fairly good reason that we are talking about some of the most vulnerable people in the world.

They aren’t “illegal”, that has been made clear through multiple cases. They are statistically less likely to commit crimes than any other group, not surprising when you apply common sense. If you have fled persecution you are unlikely to risk your safety again.

What Nigel Farage is doing here is pure hate stoking, in my opinion. He conflates different topics to create the impression that all asylum seekers are dangerous criminals and then uses easily disproven figures to argue that they aren’t even asylum seekers.  

There is a long way to go with the immigration debate in the UK, but attitudes are softening. People are more aware of the need to provide protection and those like Farage who want to demonise asylum seekers et al are in the minority.

The debate needs clear facts, evidence, and an engagement with reality though, all of which are missing in spectacular fashion here.

Farage ignores both domestic and international law. He ignores how asylum applications dropped during 2020. He basically ignores everything.   🔷

Further Reading:

Dan Sohege, Human rights advocate, international refugee law specialist, immigration economist, charity fundraising professional and Director of Stand For All.


Check their Voting Record:

🗳️ Nigel Farage

[This piece was first published as a Twitter thread and turned into the above article on 7 January 2021 with the purpose of reaching a larger audience. It has been minorly edited and corrected, and published with the author’s consent. | The author of the tweets writes in a personal capacity.]

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(Cover: Flickr/Gage Skidmore. - Nigel Farage. / Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.)