Tim Parks in Politico:
In the past they took refuge beyond the first border, then waited till they could return. They wanted to go home. Maybe we sent aid, maybe we didn’t. Only the genuinely persecuted or the unusually enterprising set off for the world’s old democracies, the prosperous centers of commerce. Occasionally there was a special crisis where one had to recognize responsibility: the 27,000 Ugandan Asians who came to Britain in 1972; the million and more Vietnamese who came to Europe at the end of the Vietnam War. They were one-offs; they were manageable.
Now it is different. Now any number of people, no, of peoples, are overflowing onto our beaches. By sheer weight of numbers they crash down border fences. They are not looking for safety, pure and simple. On the contrary, they are taking extraordinary risks. They fall out of aeroplanes over our cities. They crowd into dark containers. They walk miles through railway tunnels under the sea. Their women give birth in sinking ships. Their children lie dead in the sand. It doesn’t stop them. More than a place of refuge, they want a life. They want it now. And they know where: in Germany, France, the U.K. They want the life we have.
And we are surprised.