Peter Rhodes on vaccines, beer games and why three million Hong Kongers would transform Britain

By Peter Rhodes | Peter Rhodes | Published:

Read the latest column from Peter Rhodes.

Coming our way?

So, to recap. After many months of research, scientists tell us the long-awaited Covid-19 vaccine may come in one of two forms. It may be the all-singing, all-curing super vaccine we were sort of expecting. Or it may be the sort of vaccine that doesn't stop you catching the virus but makes the symptoms bearable.

In other words, in laymen's terms it might be a vaccine, or it might not be a vaccine. And the scientific community gathering at their sinks may be self-sanitising. Or they may be washing their hands of it.

As the pubs re-open, we are urged to practise “responsible drinking.” Pity some people were so irresponsible in their drinking six months ago. One spike of coronavirus was traced to an Austrian skiing bar where customers regularly played the drinking game “beer pong.” This involves taking turns to spit the same ping-pong ball into a beer glass. Anyone refusing to put a ball marinated in the sputum of others into his own mouth is presumably regarded as a wimp. Of course, nobody deserves to get coronavirus. Well, hardly anybody.

When Britain handed Hong Kong back to China in 1997, there was much talk of Hong Kongers fleeing the colony and heading for Britain. There was a precedent. After Vietnam fell to the communists in 1975, thousands of South Vietnamese had taken to the seas. The joke was that while they became known as the Boat People, the Hong Kongers, being much wealthier, would be dubbed the Yacht People. In the event, the HK handover was so well crafted that the residents stayed put. But 23 years on, with Beijing stamping on any dissent, Boris Johnson is offering sanctuary in Britain to three million Hong Kongers. Our London elite should be shaking in their boots.

Virtually every other wave of mass migration into Britain has involved penniless arrivals struggling to make a living and competing for jobs and houses with the British working class. As I know from a number of visits, Hong Kong folk are not like that. They are ferociously aspirational people who in two generations rose from making cheap plastic toys or ten-bob suits to running huge commercial, legal and financial operations. They work hard. They cherish schools and demand the best education for their kids. In homes, jobs, university places and politics, they would compete directly with the British middle and upper classes.

Three million Hong Kongers would sweep through Britain's professions like a dose of salts, driving quality up and pushing fees down. They would also bring with them a brave, dynamic and passionate belief in democracy.

Which is why I suspect that, while British politicians of all shades will make all the right noises about sanctuary, liberty, our imperial responsibilities and all that stuff, the Hong Kong Three Million will not be allowed to drop anchor here. Don't want to rock the boat, eh, chaps?

Peter Rhodes

By Peter Rhodes

Award-winning columnist and blogger. Keeping an eye on the tribulations and trivia of a fast-changing world

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