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Friday, February 07, 2003
A solution to the asylum "problem"

The problem of asylum seekers has come to the fore again. "We are a soft touch," the right-wing press trumpets. "Our benefits are a magnet for foreign pseudo asylum seekers."

I have looked at some of the benefits available elsewhere in Europe and ours are not the highest so there must be some other reason why foreigners are "flocking" to our shores.

Our weather is shit, we live on top of each other, we have incipient xenophobia so, unless the potential immigrants are masochists, there must be some other explanation.

Many years ago, I remember the beginnings of a growth industry: TEFL - Teaching English as a Foreign Language. Once we'd lost the ability to manufacture anything and become a vast service industry, there was one thing we could export: our language. So, the rest of the World tried to learn English. It became the Lingua Franca (sorry M. Chirac) of international communication.

That's the attraction. For someone whose first language is (e.g.) Tibetan and his second English, an English-speaking country is the obvious haven. It's nothing to do with the 'enormous' benefits.

There are two possible solutions: firstly, deport them to the USA (they speak English there, don't they?). Alternatively (and this is the choice I favour), make it an offence to speak English throughout the UK and teach the indigenous population Welsh. That would remove the attraction, wouldn't it, boyo?

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