Someone in Downing Street must be having deep regrets over allowing Chris Philp out on his own for a day-trip to France.
In the maelstrom of disunity and sackings over the past 12 months that is the Dominic Cummings government, Philp, the Tory MP for Croydon South, has risen without trace to become immigration minister.
So, with the rabid-right unleashing their attack dogs on refugees who are fleeing to this country in search of safe haven, Philp was despatched to Paris yesterday to try to negotiate a deal with the French government, effectively asking Britain’s former EU partners to control our borders for us. So much for “taking back control”.
It seems Philp failed to reach an accord with the French, as not unreasonably what they might have once done relatively cheaply when we were members of the European Union, they now expect Britain to pick up the full bill. Since 2015, Britain has paid France £100million to stop small boats setting off across the Channel.
Whether it was the effects of heatwave or the difficulties of his negotation, when Philp was plonked in front of a microphone and television camera and asked to give the political equivalent of a post-match interview, he was looking hot and a little bothered. Trouble was, he forgot the TV interview was going out live, and he also managed to mix up the role in the negotiations of Britain and Germany…
“Can we do that last bit again as I got the French/ German border muddled up with the UK border?” says actual Immigration Minister Chris Philp, today in Paris.
(That’s Paris, France btw) pic.twitter.com/nuR6bFY1CV
— The Prole Star (@TheProleStar) August 11, 2020
According to Philp, “France and Germany” were working together in the spirit of cooperation. He quickly corrected himself to say, “France and the United Kingdom”.
Realising his error, Herr Philp sought to cover-up his brain-fart, turning to the reporter and asking, somewhat lamely, “Do you want to that last bit again because I got the Germany thing muddled?”
Herr Philp’s gaffe is on a par with his Conservative colleague, Dominic Raab, who when Brexit Minister in 2018 actually said, out loud, in public, that “I hadn’t quite understood the full extent of this, but if you look at the UK and look at how we trade in goods, we are particularly reliant on the Dover-Calais crossing.” Yep. He really said that.
Not knowing that our most important trade gateway is that which is closest geographically to our most important market when you are the minister responsible for Brexit was rightly regarded with ridicule at that time.
Much like the occasion, also two years ago, when Philp (yes, him again) suggested on social media that the problems of post-Brexit “hard borders” between Northern Ireland and the Republic could be resolved with a Swiss solution, because Switzerland has little or no customs infrastructure with their EU neighbours… when, in fact, the opposite is very much the case.
Given that Herr Philp, and Raab, have the full weight of the Whitehall Civil Service behind them, to brief them on such matters, or explain the difference between Britain and Germany, the public might be entitled to be a little concerned about the calibre of some of those in charge.
And that’s before you even begin to consider the amoral positioning of Home Secretary Priti Patel and her Farage-inspired Tommy Robinson-lite policies, where she has repeatedly referred to asylum seekers as being illegal migrants, which they are not.
Herr Philp, as immigration minister, is doing Patel’s bidding.
When not quite as flustered, Herr Philp said he did not rule out increasing Britain’s financial contribution to France towards their running immigration controls for us, but that it would be “premature” to discuss financial arrangements publicly. Which sounds very much as if that Herr Philp had been despatched to Paris but not been given sufficient authority to agree such payments.
“We have worked on a joint operational plan — a revised, new operational plan — with the objective in mind of completely cutting this route,” he said. “We are going to be working at pace in the coming days to make that plan a reality.”
And presumably, when Herr Philp got back to the Home Office last night for a debrief with Patel, after overcoming the understandable confusion of whether he was in London or Berlin, they spent some time singing that long-time favourite of the far-right, Tomorrow Belongs To Me…
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