DEBATE in Westminster last week was dominated by proposed legislation to deal with the so-called “small boat crisis”.

Some of the rhetoric used by Government ministers was reprehensible and my sympathies lie with Gary Lineker. I admired him as a player and respect his speaking out. There is a major issue but fuelling hate and demonising desperate people for political capital is disgraceful, reminiscent of Trump’s ‘Build the Wall’.

There is a global refugee crisis and it’s worsening through climate catastrophe, natural disasters and sadly war. The suggestion by the Home Secretary that they’re all coming here is absurd. The number of refugees taken by the UK is paltry in comparison to many other countries, even far smaller ones – all at a time when so many sectors of our economy are experiencing a labour shortage and many of these people have remarkable skills to offer.

Of course, there are some who are economic migrants seeking to circumvent the rules. There’s many coming from Albania, which is at peace and hasn’t suffered from any environmental calamities. They should rightly be returned unless they can show genuine reasons for seeking asylum.

But the new legislation is going to hurt many fleeing disaster or conflict.

They have not been able to apply for asylum or often even gather passports or documents. Their home no longer exists or there just wasn’t time. These are human beings and must be treated with compassion. Locking them up or flying them to Rwanda is not only contemptible but a breach of international law. As Trump’s ‘wall’ failed, so will Sunak’s ‘Stop the Boats’. The solution is to provide ways in which genuine asylum seekers can access safe routes here.

More importantly, it’s about stopping them having to leave in the first place. As climate change impacts, the situation will worsen. There is plenty money to provide for weapons but where is the aid to address catastrophes? To address the global migration crisis, we need to create a fairer world.