Stopping the Boats
Suella Braverman’s departure – and replacement with the smooth-faced former Prime Minister is a momentous act of virtue-signalling by the beleaguered Tories, as they watch their popularity in the polls slide down into figures that mean inevitable electoral obliteration. Resurrecting David Cameron may have been a shrewd move but the Tory rhetoric – from head to bottom – from fringe to centre – is still all about ‘stopping the boats’, and is still deeply committed to the bizarre and wildly dangerous Rwandan policy.
The Conservatives response to the policy being ruled illegal on numerous counts by the Supreme Court was just to double down, blame the lefty-lawyers, and demand that any ‘law’ be just removed or ignored if it was an impediment to their inhumane madness. The Party of Law and Order has once again proven itself to be deeply committed to illegality.
In fact the Prime Minister has staked his entire political credibility on pushing through emergency legislation to resurrect his plan to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda, after the supreme court ruled it was unlawful. As if operating in an alternate reality several top Tories declared the ruling a great success.
Standing at a lectern bearing the “stop the boats” slogan on Wednesday afternoon, arranged after the five judges unanimously rejected the proposal, Sunak said legislation would end the “merry-go-round” of legal challenges by setting out in law that the east African country is safe. Quite how he would do this is unclear but he was acting ‘resolute’ and tough saying: “I am prepared to do what is necessary to get flights off. I will not take the easy way out.”
This bizarre, illegal and illogical idea has become a sort of obsession and a source of blackmail for the Conservative far-right who are now gunning for the EHCR who the Prime Minister referred to as a “foreign court”. Of course it’s not but in this debate there’s not much need for facts or evidence.
We are, once again, trapped inside a Tory Civil War, as we seem to have been for thirty years. Quite how such a deranged maniacal policy has been allowed to become the centre-piece of Rishi Sunak’s regime is unimaginable. But the culling of the rogue Home Secretary Braverman has not made the policy go away, it has just improved PR and bought Just Call Me Dave back to the fore. But the policy, even though it has been ruled illegal is already causing havoc and hardship before a single plane leaves the ground. As Enver Solomon chief executive of the Refugee Council has pointed out tens of thousands of people are in limbo: “Since the Rwanda plan was announced by Boris Johnson back in April 2022, we have seen much distress and trauma caused to people who face being sent to the east African country to have their asylum claims processed.”
“Letters have been received, menacingly called notices of intent, warning people that they are being considered for forcible removal. A recent freedom of information request found that between January 2021 and March this year more than 24,000 people had received the letters.”
“Every time a person receives one, it causes considerable stress. We are aware of some cases in which the impact on people’s mental health has been so acute that it has led to self-harm and suicide attempts. This is the harsh reality of the lived experience for men, women and children from countries such as Afghanistan, Iran and Eritrea – where oppressive regimes chase down their opponents – and from countries such as Sudan and Syria, where wars are playing out.”
Britain is in a cycle of warmongering and then punishing the citizens of the countries fleeing wreckage twice over. As Solomon points out the abandonment of Rwanda, if that is what transpires leaves the flagship (sic) Illegal Migration Act a lost piece of legislation. The act (and you really need to get your head around this), “extinguishes access to asylum in the UK”.
Those who arrive ‘irregularly’ will not be able to apply for asylum and face removal to a so-called safe third country. But now that the supreme court has concluded that the deal is unlawful because Rwanda is unsafe for people seeking asylum these people are in complete limbo. This could be as many as 30,000 people. The human misery of already vulnerable and distressed people – often fleeing appalling circumstances – is completely ignored by the media who are either in the feeding frenzy of racism they profit from – or gorging themselves on the pantomime of Tory back-biting and infighting.
None of this matters to the Tories who have created this mayhem for political ends. What’s both depressing and terrifying about all of this is that someone somewhere must have made the political calculation that sending vulnerable people to Rwanda was a political vote-winner. Now we are in a position where Suella Braverman (who hasn’t gone away) is operating behind the scenes, leveraging her 15 minutes of fame to play to the far-right and manipulate the (eager and willing) media. As the barrister Paul Powlesland has written:
We are now essentially in a race to the bottom to discard any laws that stand in the way of this unhinged policy. This is being pursued by a deeply unpopular but desperate political party who have shown a complete contempt for the rule of law. We are in unchartered waters here. Britain – the political entity that masqueraded in 2014 as a beacon of multiculturalism, a source of strength and stability and the home of the Mother of All Parliaments – has degenerated into chaos and casual racism. This government – this Prime Minister we didn’t elect has tied itself to a policy would not be out of place in the 1974 manifesto of the National Front.
This debacle started, like so much else, with the bluster and lies of Boris Johnson. Over a year ago Johnson announced that Rwanda was “one of the safest countries in the world, globally recognised for its record on welcoming and integrating migrants”. There would be no cap on the numbers of asylum seekers to be sent away and Rwanda would have the capacity “to resettle tens of thousands of people”. The policy, Johnson told everyone was “fully compliant” with the government’s legal obligations and treaties and human rights.
Of course none of this was true as the Supreme Court ruled to no-ones surprise. Far from being the font of security and moderation that we were told Britain is a basket-case run by psychopaths. Replacing Braverman with Cameron does nothing to change that. Imagine living in a country where you had foreign policy decisions and immigration policies you weren’t ashamed of? We are so deep into this madness it’s actually difficult to do so. That’s what we lose by being tied to the British state.