MAIL ON SUNDAY COMMENT: Europe needs united front on migrants

MAIL ON SUNDAY COMMENT: Europe needs united front on migrants 

At first, Italian prime minister Giorgia Meloni was dismissed by standard-issue liberals as being on the ‘far Right’. 

In fact, her premiership has generally been mainstream and cautious – most notably over the war in Ukraine.

She has astutely listened to the concerns of millions of honest citizens, worried by major changes in society over which they were not consulted.

And our own Prime Minister, the far-from-extreme Rishi Sunak, has from the start treated her with considerable respect.

Indeed, he compared his counterpart’s resolve over illegal immigration to Italy to the resolve – over other questions – of Lady Thatcher. 

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni attend Atreju 2023 Conservative Political Festival on December 16

During his speech the PM warned that Britain faces being ‘overwhelmed’ by illegal migration which would ‘destroy’ our democracy

He wondered aloud ‘I can only guess what first attracted Giorgia to the strong female leader who was prepared to challenge the consensus, take on stale thinking and revive her country both domestically and on the international stage.’

This is a considerable accolade, from the leader of the party Margaret Thatcher so successfully led, and it is also a declaration by Mr Sunak of a very firm purpose ‘to update our laws and lead an international conversation to amend the post-war frameworks around asylum’.

In trenchant terms, he went on to warn that Britain faces being ‘overwhelmed’ by illegal migration which would ‘destroy’ our democracy.

Undismayed by his own party’s failed attempt to melt itself down last week, he made clear that he won’t relent on efforts to curb and deter illegal migration.

Our PM’s speech was also interesting for its praise of the great conservative thinker Sir Roger Scruton, who said ‘The real reason why people are conservative is that they are attached to the things they love.’ 

Quite so. This is also the reason why the Tories have no right to give up on the next Election. There is much to defend and much to put right – and resolve and purpose, not division and squabbling, are the best ways of achieving this.

Why BBC must rein in Lineker for the Election 

Tory MPs are rightly concerned over the extraordinary political licence granted to the commentator Gary Lineker by his employer, the supposedly impartial BBC.

They want it made quite clear that Mr Lineker’s Leftist excursions on social media cannot be compatible with his position of influence at the Corporation. 

Mr Lineker should long ago have been told that he can have one or the other of these things, but not both.

His prominence on social media is based on his broadcasting fame, and neither he nor the BBC have any business pretending otherwise. He cannot express open partiality on X (formerly known as Twitter) without involving the BBC in his actions.

Gary Lineker presents Match of the Day with the FA Cup Trophy on display in March 2021

The Government’s nominee for the BBC chairmanship Samir Shah appearing before a parliamentary committee

And there is, for once, good news in this quarter. The Government’s nominee for the BBC chairmanship, the interesting and original broadcaster Samir Shah, gave a startlingly firm answer to a parliamentary committee when he was asked about this very question last week. 

He said recent comments by Mr Lineker appeared to have breached guidelines.

Indian-born Dr Shah, 71, also expressed doubts about the BBC’s refusal to call Hamas terrorists. These must surely be good signs.

He will stand out among BBC folk, as he has for many years run his own successful production business, earning its own money rather than spending other people’s.

Oddly, the Culture, Media and Sport Committee has complained that Dr Shah ‘did not sufficiently demonstrate the strength and character that is needed to challenge the executive leadership of the BBC’.

We are not so sure, and are inclined to watch with interest to see how he actually performs.

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