But many support turning back small ships despite the danger
When is a Brit not a Brit? Well, she’s definitely a Brit when still a teenager, contrary to all expectations, in only her second Grand Slam event, she wins the US Open tennis championship in spectacular style and, as that favourite hackneyed phrase has it, “captures the heart of the nation.” Her name is on everyone’s lips; she’s the lead story on every TV news bulletin and the splash headline on every front page. She’s a “brave Brit”, a “plucky Brit” and a “brilliant Brit.”
And it’s true; by becoming the first British woman to win a “major” since Virginia Wade way back in 1977 Emma Raducanu is without any doubt, a brilliant Brit. She is also an immigrant. Emma was born in Toronto, Canada, the daughter of a Romanian father, Ian, and a Chinese mother, Renee. The family moved to the UK when Emma was two, but she retains close ties with both Romania and China.
She says she’s “quite capable” in Mandarin, binge-watches Taiwanese television shows, visits Romania whenever she can and loves Romanian food, especially when it’s cooked by her paternal grandmother, “mamaia”, who still lives in Bucharest. But Emma is a Brit. She must be judging by the numerous other Brits who swiftly jumped on the “we love Emma” bandwagon. These included former Ukip leader Nigel Farage, who tweeted soon after her triumph, “A global megastar is born. @Emma Raducanu winning the US Open is truly incredible,” followed by the clapping emoji.
A global megastar is born. @EmmaRaducanu winning the US Open is truly incredible. 👏
— Nigel Farage (@Nigel_Farage) September 11, 2021
This is the same Nigel Farage who, when party leader, said that “any normal and fair-minded person” would be concerned to have Romanians for neighbours. He belatedly withdrew the comment, while at the same time stating that Ukip was not a racist party.
Two-year-old Emma Raducanu did not arrive on these shores in an open boat after a nightmare voyage across the English Channel in the way that other two-yearolds are arriving now; cold, bewildered and terrified. They and their families are rounded up – if they don’t disappear into the night – and herded into holding accommodation reportedly unfit for habitation and made to wait, fearing for their future. There is unarguably an issue with migrants arriving illegally. There are also gangs profiting from the operation.
But Home Secretary Priti Patel’s use of increasingly hardline tactics is difficult to stomach. The latest proposal of deploying “turnaround tactics” to direct boats back across the Channel, is both dangerous and potentially in breach of maritime law, which states that the government must offer assistance to those at risk of drowning. Turning back the boats increases that possibility. The French too must play their part in finding a solution, but perhaps now is the time for everyone to pause and consider those actually on board those flimsy vessels. None of the children are dreaming of becoming the next Emma Raducanu, their families are simply hoping to make a new start somewhere safe and secure. Surely they need to be treated with more compassion and kindness than this government is currently displaying.