Europe should shut up shop and close its doors to migrants from the Middle East, according to Tony Abbott, the former Australian prime minister.
Speaking at the second Margaret Thatcher Lecture in London, Abbott said the imperative to love your neighbour as you love yourself was leading Europe to a “catastrophic error”.
In his first major speech since he was forced out of office, he spoke about the removal of his country’s carbon tax, free trade union legislation while claiming there was a “hint of Thatcherism” about his administration’s policies.
But it was on Europe’s migrant crisis where he was outspoken.
“All countries that say anyone who gets here can stay here are now in peril, given the scale of the population movements that are starting to be seen,” he said.
No country or continent can open its borders to all-comers without fundamentally weakening itself
“There are tens, perhaps hundreds of millions of people living in poverty and danger who might readily seek to enter a western country if the opportunity is there. And who can blame them.
“Yet no country or continent can open its borders to all-comers without fundamentally weakening itself. And this is the risk that the countries of Europe now run with misguided altruism.
He said while he was prime minister he was loath to give public advice to other countries. But Australia, he said, was the only country that had successfully defeated the problem, twice, and its experience should be studied.
“It will require massive logistics and expense; it will gnaw at our consciences — yet it is the only way to prevent a tide of humanity surging through Europe and quite possibly changing it forever,” he added.
“We are rediscovering the hard way that justice tempered by mercy is an exacting ideal, as too much mercy for some necessarily undermines justice for all.”
More than half a million migrants fleeing war in the Middle East have poured into Europe this year with Slovenia and Austria currently struggling the most with the flow along a corridor northwestwards from the Balkans.
Abbott was prime minister of Australia for two years but was ousted from office in September 2015 in a leadership vote by Malcom Turnbull.