If there’s one thing less popular with C1/C2 voters than an open borders immigration policy it would be the idea of taking in foreign terror suspects. But what if it helps the UK win favour with the new American president?
It remains to be seen whether Gordon Brown will acquiesce to the US call to provide homes for some of the 50 or 60 detainees of Guantanamo Bay who are not considered a threat but cannot safely return to their native countries.
Barack Obama has already made it clear he wants to shut down the Cuban prison camp, which has been a stain on US reputation. But the US State Department’s attempt to get other countries to take the detainees is not going well. The Netherlands has said no. Sweden, Spain and Poland have warned of domestic legal issues if they do so. The Australians say any entrants must pass rigorous tests. Only Germany and Portugal have said yes so far.
What about the UK? Here is the article in The Times which provoked a big debate today by suggesting that Britain may be one of the few countries to say yes.
The Foreign Office is trying to douse the story with cold water, suggesting that it has already received 9 British inmates and four former UK residents. It is also in talks to take another two. The department seems to be saying that it has already done its fair share – and now it’s time for other countries to pull their weight.
But I was left with a rather different impression from one government aide today. This person said we shouldn’t believe the story because the US had not yet asked for help with the detainees – and it was impossible to prejudge what the British approach would be to any forthcoming demand. That is not the same as denying that the UK is preparing the ground for this to happen.