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Border curbs and Covid—don’t let the racists divide us

Issue 2741
Boris Johnson is using the pandemic to push nationalist ideas
Boris Johnson is using the pandemic to push nationalist ideas (Pic: Number 10/Flickr)

Boris Johnson bragged last week that, in terms of Covid-19 border controls, Britain has “one of the toughest regimes in the world”.

It’s certainly tough on refugees and migrants.

The Tories are using the pandemic to push for harsher immigration restrictions. Labour leader Keir Starmer agrees, saying we must “secure our borders”.

But treating migrants as the problem encourages racism—and won’t stop the spread of the virus.The government says that anyone arriving in England must self-isolate for ten days. There is no support to help people do that.

It plans to begin quarantining new arrivals from 33 countries with certain coronavirus variants in hotels later this month. But again, they will receive no financial support—and could be forced to fork out up to £1,500 themselves.

Without proper funding, people face being put in hotels that aren’t suitable for quarantine. Lack of support means low paid hotel workers will feel pressured to keep working even if they are ill.

Quarantine can only be a tiny part of any strategy to beat coronavirus.

One of the more transmissible new strains to emerge, B117, was identified in Britain.

It’s right to think about how quarantine can protect health.

But socialists and anti-racists should oppose all attempts to use these issues to push for a crackdown on immigration and more racist border controls.

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