Here you are! An angel of the chief lord justice has descended among us. And he said Christmas dreams should come true. Suella Braverman was very stunned and she dropped to her knees in thanks. The lord chief justice was truly generous. If not entirely merciful.
The home secretary well remembered her dreams which had been revealed to her in her sleep. And while she was awake. Because Suella’s heart was full of hate. Hatred known only by the truly unjust. How she had wanted to arrest some frightened foreigners who had landed on British shores seeking asylum! And from the beach to put them straight on a plane and take them to Rwanda. A country from which many of its own inhabitants wanted to flee. There to live in terror. This was what the baby Jesus would have wanted.
Now those dreams were to come true. Possibly. Even if now Suella could live in hope. Because the judges had ruled that any asylum seeker could be deported to Rwanda. Even if the reality was that only a few – at most – would ever end up in Africa because the lawyers would have found other reasons to block their expulsion. But Suella looked on the bright side. It was far better for any Home Secretary to be blocked by human rights lawyers than for their own department to introduce a bill it deemed illegal.
So it was that Suella came to the House of Commons to make a statement on government policy in Rwanda. “Don’t be afraid,” she said. “For, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.” At least to the three or four dozen MPs who had gathered in the chamber. Because this was the last week before Christmas and many backbenchers had clearly decided it would be best to go home.
That was his vision, says the interior minister. We had already been too generous to the 450,000 people we had granted asylum in recent years. Even if we owed these people a duty of care. And many of them were Ukrainians, which made them feel a little less like foreigners. But the milk of human kindness comes to an end. Indeed, the foreigners had begun to piss off and treat England’s chosen people like mugs. And now, the Lord had decreed that it was enough.
Thus it was that the Lord had decided that the strangers—those who rejected the wave machines and survived diphtheria in the processing fields—should be sent to the promised land. A land of milk and honey. Rwanda. Don’t be dejected. Rather sing his praises. Because even Suella had been there for at least a couple of days. Which was more than enough for her.
Hallelujah, she cried. Far better for a handful of the unfortunate – the weak, the crippled, the crippled – to be found in Rwanda at the cost of several million pounds each than to be granted asylum in Blighty. For an example it had to be done. The Lord was a vengeful God. And something had to be done to satisfy conservative supporters who believed some sort of symbolic gesture was being undertaken to make the country feel as though the Pharisees were in control over immigration.
Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper was less than convinced. Not only was the Rwandan policy impractical, immoral and costly, it also failed as a deterrent to stop the real criminals: human traffickers. They were still coining it, as none of the government’s plans – the Nationality and Borders Act, Rwanda and Rishi Sunak’s latest tough measures – had made the slightest difference. People were still crossing the Channel in sub-zero conditions.
Let’s get real, she continued. Even assuming that the Interior Ministry was able to sort out all the legal paperwork – which it had failed to do for the eight asylum seekers it had tried to expel, even confusing people’s names – Rwanda had it said the maximum number of refugees it could take was 200. This was less than 0.5% of the number of people who had crossed the canal this year.
At this Suella was filled with anger. Because she well understood that her government was in the saloon of the last chance. Though luckily he was too weak to see that all his plans were doomed to failure. Instead, she moaned and cried. Couldn’t the MPs see that he was doing the Lord’s work? And it pleases the Lord. As did the rest of the country who thoroughly endorsed his policy in Rwanda. They just didn’t. A recent poll suggests that most people are horrified by this.
But, yes, the Tory backbenchers – the self-selected few who were left to indulge their xenophobia – were very excited. They couldn’t wait to find out exactly when the first flights would take off so they could celebrate at home. Jacob Rees-Mogg and Edward Leigh were very afraid that the Europeans would stop deportations and sought assurance that the UK would ignore international law. Suella kept her advice. Probably because she didn’t quite understand the implications.
Others have indeed been more eclectic in their responses. Natalie Elphicke thought that foreigners start in Calais and should be treated as such. John Whittingdale had stayed in a nice hotel in Rwanda and could highly recommend the country as a tourist destination. Desmond Swayne thought there were already too many safe routes for asylum seekers and that we shouldn’t have done anything else to help anyone. Jack Brereton felt that the people of Stoke had already done too much.
Truly the Tories have all been blessed with the Christmas spirit. The sweet milk of human goodness. The quality of mercy is not strained. Certainly when it comes to refugees.