Forget Rwanda. Here’s an ingenious new solution to the migrant crisis

The Government’s plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda has drawn three major criticisms. First, that it’s inhumane. Second, that it will be eye-wateringly expensive. And third, that it still won’t deter large numbers of desperate migrants from risking their lives in the attempt to sail from France to England.

Still, there’s no need for Boris Johnson to fret. Salvation is at hand. Because a reader of this column – Mr Tony Monks of Chichester – has emailed me to suggest an alternative policy that, in his view, avoids all three of these pitfalls.

Mr Monks argues that the main reason so many asylum seekers try to reach Britain is that they can speak at least some English. After all, it’s the most widely spoken language in the world – far more widely spoken than any other European tongue.

Therefore, he says, the solution is simple. We should spend our international aid budget teaching everyone in the Middle East – and other volatile parts of the world – to speak fluent French. Then, if the inhabitants ever end up fleeing their homelands, they’ll all settle happily in France, rather than risk the perilous journey across the Channel.

Priti Patel has said that this crisis requires a “bold and innovative” solution, and Mr Monks’s suggestion certainly satisfies those criteria. All the same, I think it’s important to bear in mind the biggest reason why English is so widely spoken. 

It’s not simply because, hundreds of years ago, Britain colonised so many countries. After all, the Empire is now a distant memory. No, the main reason that people all over the world learn English these days is because that’s the language America speaks. And no country on Earth has greater cultural influence than America.

To prevent so many desperate asylum seekers from trying to sail to Britain, therefore, we need to stop America speaking English. And the only way to do that is for Britain to conquer America, so that we can force all its inhabitants to speak French instead.

Conquering the US may not sound an easy task, but in recent years the American public seems to have developed an almost neurotic terror of getting involved in military conflict, so our prospects of success may be greater than we think. I suggest we invade sometime in the afternoon, while President Biden is having his nap.

Rock of ages

At the age of 49, Liam Gallagher has admitted that he suffers from arthritis – and that nurses have advised him to have a double hip replacement. The former Oasis frontman, however, has refused – because he believes that, for a rock’n’roll star like him, a hip op carries too much “stigma”. In other words: he’s worried that it would make people think he’s old and past-it.

Nonsense. Once upon a time, a rock singer might well have been mocked for having a hip op. But not these days. We now live in a world where Sir Paul McCartney has been booked to headline Glastonbury the week after his 80th birthday. Clearly, ageism in rock is a thing of the past.

Go back to the 1980s, when Mr Gallagher was growing up, and it was a very different picture. In those days, rock was a young man’s game – with anyone over 35 viewed as a drooling geriatric. When George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, Jeff Lynne and Tom Petty formed The Traveling Wilburys in 1988, journalists referred to them as “elder statesmen”, “veterans”, “grand old men of rock”. Yet Petty was only 37 – and all the other members, bar Orbison, were years younger than Liam Gallagher is now.

The following year, 1989, the rock magazine Q ran a cover feature on the Rolling Stones, satirically headlined: “Lock Up Your Grandmothers!” At the time, Mick Jagger was only 46.

The Stones singer was a common target of age-related ridicule. In 1990, when Morrissey was a fresh-faced young man of 31, he wrote a song that began: “Oh you silly old man, you silly old man, you’re making a fool of yourself, so get off the stage.” Rock journalists were certain that he was singing about Jagger.

At any rate, it seems Morrissey no longer believes that older performers should step aside. This summer he’s been booked to play a series of concerts in Las Vegas, at the age of 63.

Even Jagger himself used to shudder at the concept of the ageing rock star. In June 1975, when he was 31, he told People magazine: “I’d rather be dead than sing Satisfaction when I’m 45.”

On July 27 this year, however, he’ll sing it at a 62,000-capacity stadium in Germany – the day after he turns 79.

The Corbyn conundrum

Jeremy Corbyn’s views on the Russian invasion of Ukraine remain a subject of intrigue. In an interview this week, the former Labour leader was asked whether he admires Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky.

“I don’t know,” replied Mr Corbyn curtly. “I’ve never met him.”

It seems a curious rule to live by: that you can only decide whether you admire someone after you’ve met them. What makes it all the more curious is that, in 2018, Mr Corbyn told the BBC that the person he most admired was the proto-feminist writer and thinker Mary Wollstonecraft. Who, as historians will confirm, was born on April 27, 1759.

Since Mr Corbyn is only able to decide whether he admires someone after he has met them, this suggests that, rather than dying in the year 1797 as scholars have always believed, Mrs Wollstonecraft is alive and well today.

If so, on Wednesday next week she will be celebrating her 263rd birthday. I do hope she has invited her old friend and admirer Mr Corbyn to the party.

‘Way of the World’ is a twice-weekly satirical look at the headlines while aiming to mock the absurdities of the modern world. It is published at 7am every Tuesday and Saturday

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