There must be a moratorium on these mass deportation flights – Diane Abbott MP exclusive


“It is all just to show the tabloid press how “tough” the Tories can be on immigration, even if the outcome is cruel & unfair.”

Diane Abbott MP

By Diane Abbott MP

Mass deportation flights are a signature Boris Johnson immigration and nationality tactic. They are essentially performative – cruel, arbitrary, a double punishment and expensive.  

Since becoming Prime Minister in 2019, Boris has spent no less than £4.7 million on these flights. The money has paid for 23 charter flights to remove 548 people including pregnant woman and children. And the latest mass deportation flight will be in a few days on the 11thAugust, and it will be taking the detainees to Jamaica.

The destination of the flight is worth noting for two reasons. The Home Office’s own data reveals that people from Jamaica are disproportionately targeted for deportation from the UK, if they commit crimes. Notably the Home Office fought for a year not to reveal this. It refused the original Freedom of Information request and only made the data available when the Information Commissioners Office ruled against it. But the other reason why a mass deportation flight to Jamaica is worth taking note of, is that it will be the fourth such flight to Jamaica since the Windrush scandal. It is as if the Tories have learnt nothing since deporting so many Commonwealth migrants who were actually legally entitled to be here. 

The cruelty of these flights lies partly in the fact that they are often ripping people away from the only country that they can remember and sometimes tearing families apart. Some of the people that the Home Office wants to deport came to this country when they were babies, just three months old. They have known no other country but Britain. These particular deportations are despite the fact that the Jamaican High Commission thought that they had an agreement with the Home Office, that they would not deport anyone who was brought to this country when they were younger than twelve. All of the prospective deportees are long-term British residents.  None of the prospective deportees have lived in this country for less than nineteen years. Most of the people that it is planned to deport have lived in the UK for the greater part of their adult lives. Naturally they have wide and deep personal ties in this country. If this deportation flight goes ahead at least twenty- three British children will lose their fathers.

The Home Office justification for these flights is that the people being deported are all dangerous criminals. It is true that they have all broken the law. But most have been convicted for non-violent drug offences and four got deportation orders for their first and only offence. They have all actually served the sentence for their crime. The deportation is by way of being a double jeopardy. It is an arbitrary sentence that the British State is able to impose, in practice, because the deportees are not white.

As August 11th gets nearer some of the detainees intended for the Jamaica flight have been told that their deportation has been cancelled. This is often the way with these mass deportation flights. A racist dragnet is cast over a particular community. In this case it is the Jamaican community.  People are “scraped up” to be deported willy nilly. However, if they are fortunate enough to get representation and someone to make their case, they can ultimately be taken off the flight. But nobody should be subjected to this arbitrary cruelty.

There needs to be a moratorium on these mass deportation flights. Government should not be playing with people’s lives. It is all just to show the tabloid press how “tough” the Tories can be on immigration, even if the outcome is cruel and unfair.

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