Fiona Bruce and Bridgwater audience member.
Immigration policy dominated this week’s BBC Question Time after the government’s plan to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda was deemed illegal by the Supreme Court.
But the debate it triggered among audience members on the broadcaster’s flagship politics show, which this week came from Bridgwater, prompted some shocking suggestions ob how to deal with the issue – including, apparently, “drones with knives” to puncture the dinghies.
The flagship policy – first announced when Boris Johnson was still PM last year – was a key plank of Rishi Sunak’s pledge to “stop the boats” carrying asylum seekers across the English Channel.
Under the plan, people arriving in the UK by the route would be deported to Rwanda. The government hoped this would deter others from attempting to make the crossing.
One audience said: “What I think should be done is, you see all the migrants and the pirates putting them on the boats, why can’t the French have like a knife or something and just do it before it even gets in the water.”
When presenter Fiona Bruce pointed out that it might be difficult to puncture the boats because it’s “a long coastline”, the audience member replied: “You see them on television, where there’s a drone and they’re watching everybody coming out…”
Lady in purple, "I don't agree with pushing back the boats.. But why can't the French get a knife and deflate the boats before people get in them"
Fiona Bruce, "It's a big coast line"
Lady in purple, "Drones?"#BBCQT - follow for more pic.twitter.com/cHsfWSCyHS
— Farrukh (@implausibleblog) November 16, 2023
Drones with knives 😂
— Dan (@DanSpring) November 17, 2023
Could we knife the migrant boats? What about using drones… that release bees? Maybe we could let hundreds of XL Bullies loose on the beaches? Limited nuclear strikes? Anyone? Anyone?! #bbcqtpic.twitter.com/SlWtBCyaRf
— Moog (@a_toots) November 16, 2023
While another suggested the boats should be “pushed back to France”.
I’ve tried not to exaggerate, or put words into her mouth, but after 3 plays I can only conclude she is saying “France isn’t rescuing as many refugees as we are, so let them drown”. #bbcqtpic.twitter.com/01LGvj98T3
— Brendan May (@bmay) November 16, 2023
But someone else had a more compassionate take.
This audience member said the “root cause” was being ignored, adding: “You know how stressful moving house is ... just think what situation the people would be in…they’re not just moving house, they’re taking their families.”
She said: “Should we really be addressing that agony with policies of fear, or should we be looking with compassion thinking what can we do so people don’t have to leave their homes? What can we do with the aid budget? What can we be doing with ceasefires? How can we help to make the whole world a safe place?”
This is me! I am the lady in the middle with the glasses 🤓 https://t.co/uCp7mO4MJO
— Sophia Vahdati - Writer (@SophiaVahdati) November 16, 2023
This week, the Supreme Court blocked the government’s plan to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda.
It ruled there was a real risk people sent to Rwanda would be sent back to the country from which they originally fled persecution, meaning it was unlawful.
Speaking at a press conference in Downing Street, the prime minister said he will introduce “emergency legislation” in an attempt to keep the scheme alive.