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How would we treat Paddington Bear if he came to the UK today? Perhaps he would be made destitute as a result of extortionate visa application fees; perhaps he would experience a cruel term of imprisonment in a detention centre; or perhaps his entire identity would be torn apart at the hands of a hostile environment that seems to delight in the humiliation of its victims.

Britain thinks of itself as a welcoming country, but the reality is, and always has been, very different. This is a system in which people born in Britain are told in uncompromising terms that they are not British, in which those who have lived their entire lives on these shores are threatened with the most unyielding of policies, and in which falling in love with anyone other than a British national can result in families being ripped apart. Here, citizens are called on to police each other, targets matter more than people, and death in detention centres is far from uncommon.

In this vital and alarming book, campaigner and immigration barrister Colin Yeo tackles the subject with dexterity and rigour, offering a roadmap of where we should go from here as he exposes the iniquities of an immigration system that is unforgiving, unfeeling and, ultimately, failing.


An incisive and compelling analysis of how muddled political thinking has caused our immigration laws to go so badly wrong, and what must be done to reform them. Highly readable and cogently argued, a copy should be put on the desk of every tabloid editor and every MP.

The Secret Barrister
Successive governments have allowed the UK’s immigration laws to become ever more incomprehensible and increasingly unfair, confident that few will understand what is happening and even fewer will care. Colin Yeo understands the law better than most and cares very much indeed. As well as providing a highly readable account of what the law is, he offers his own vision of what it should become.
Joshua Rozenberg QC
"Colin Yeo presents us with a forensic examination of the UK’s labyrinthine, costly and dehumanising immigration system – a must-read.”
Maya Goodfellow, author of Hostile Environment: How Immigrants Became Scapegoats

This is a brilliant and urgently necessary book. Colin Yeo writes piercingly about the chaotic cruelty of Britain’s immigration system and offers meticulously well-informed proposals for reform of the Home Office. He strips away with lawyerly precision the nonsense which informs so much of our toxic debate on immigration. Packed with chilling accounts of lives ripped up by the Home Office, this is an intensely disturbing read.

Amelia Gentleman, journalist
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  • Paperback, 368 pages
  • ISBN: 9781785907364
  • 10 March 2022
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  • ISBN: 9781785905773
  • 29 June 2020
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