The Guardian January 22, 2003


Britain Blast from the past

Official government files released on January 1, 2003 expose plans by a 
former British Government to settle "unwanted" immigrants on an island. 
"Heath sought island to discard immigrants", the British left daily Morning 
Star reports. The Australian Government's "Pacific Solution" for refugees 
is not an original idea when it comes to the ruling class's racist, 
discriminatory policies.

The government files reveal that former Tory (conservative) Prime Minister 
Edward Heath launched a frantic search for a remote island where immigrants 
could be dumped instead of allowing them to live in Britain.

Ministers were under pressure from racist right-wingers, who had whipped up 
a scare campaign following the entry into Britain of 25,000 Ugandan Asians 
with British passports, who had been expelled by dictator Idi Amin.

The government feared that Tanzania and Zambia could follow Mr Amin's lead 
and expel their Asian populations, who also held British passports and so 
were entitled to claim residence in Britain.

Officials scoured British overseas territories across the world for 
possible island sites, but only the Falkland Islands showed any willingness 
to accept significant numbers of new immigrants.

Foreign Office officials reported little enthusiasm among island 
territories for the resettlement plan.

They warned of "strong prejudice" in the Seychelles and claimed that the 
Solomon Islanders had "xenophobic tendencies".

Cabinet records show that Mr Amin's decision to expel the Ugandan Asians 
had caught the government by surprise.

"We always thought that Amin was a decent chap", one Home Office official 
said. "After all, he served in the British Army for 15 years".

Mr Heath told the Cabinet that the public must be reassured that that the 
government "would not tolerate a second expansion of this kind".

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