A qualified success

    Nothing better illustrated the populist style of this home
    secretary than the law introduced to deny asylum seekers support if
    they were too slow to declare their intentions upon arrival in this
    country. The requirement under section 55 of the Nationality,
    Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 to claim asylum as soon as
    reasonably practicable effectively cut off food and shelter for
    anyone taking longer than three days to apply. Within 15 months
    this inhumane law had left more than 10,000 people with little
    alternative but to turn to charity for the basic means of survival.

    However well David Blunkett’s law played to readers of the Daily
    Mail and The Sun, the courts have been less impressed. So little
    impressed that the government has been forced to reverse the
    policy, the High Court and the Appeal Court having found it to be
    fundamentally in breach of human rights. Evidently it has done so
    with a bad grace. There will be no apology for the hardship
    inflicted, nor are there any plans to repeal section 55. On the
    contrary, the government intends to challenge the two earlier court
    rulings in the House of Lords. An important victory for asylum
    seekers, yes, but the defeat of populist politics seems as far away
    as ever.

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