Priti Vacant leaves it to others to defend Rwanda deportations | John Crace

We’re in that phase of the death cycle where the government’s only two flagship policies are almost certainly in breach of international law. If not UK law as well. Just for good measure. Still, Boris Johnson knows a thing or two about breaking the law himself and is apparently totally cool with it. So much so he would do it all over again. He fought the law and the law won.

You’d have thought, though, that some of his ministers might have balked at law breaking on a global stage. Even just the twice. But needs must and all that. Operation Save Big Dog demands nothing less than all his ministers sacrificing what’s left of their credibility to the cause of the lunatics in the party. The MPs – almost exclusively male – whose demands become ever more extreme the greater they are indulged.

Given that Priti Patel comes from the same wing of the party as the fundamentalists, it had seemed odds on that she would want to take the opportunity to explain the current status of the Home Office plans to deport refugees on Tuesday. A chance to dance on the dashed hopes of asylum seekers the world over.

But Priti Vacant was acting unusually coy on Monday afternoon. Offered the chance by the Speaker to make a ministerial statement, she declined. And when Lindsay Hoyle instead offered the opposition the chance to turn Rwanda into an urgent question, she ran for the hills.

Maybe it was all just too mundane for her and she couldn’t contain her disappointment that more people weren’t going to suffer. After all, it was unlikely to have been from a surfeit of remorse as that would require something approximating to a conscience. But, for whatever reason, Vacant was nowhere to be seen in the Commons and it was left to the terminally dull and synaptically challenged junior minister Tom Pursglove to present the government’s case.

Pursglove is nothing if not a true believer. He too had been one of the backbench fanatics before Johnson had run out of options and promoted him to toilet cleaner at the Home Office. So his eyes shone bright with the rapture as he sung the praises of being unpleasant to refugees.

This was a “world leading” policy, he began. Leading in the sense of being first in a race of just one. Every other country – principally Australia and Israel – that had tried “cash for deportation”, aka legalised people smuggling, has had to abandon it as being unworkable and too expensive. The idea that it also might have been unethical and immoral still hasn’t occurred to them.

Rwanda was also fundamentally safe, Dopey Tom suggested. Not that he was minded to live there. Though he would be quite happy to visit some of the refugees when they were in their internment camp. Not so much a human zoo. More a wildlife safari park.

First you see the Big Five: elephants; lions; leopards; rhino; and buffalo. Then you see the Little One. Possibly even the Iranian policeman who had fled to the UK as he was in danger of being sent to prison for preventing his men from opening fire on protesters. Lawyers had made sure he was taken off the first flight to Kigali, but he would probably be rounded up and sent on a later one.

The Scottish National party’s Stuart McDonald and Labour’s Yvette Cooper, were both incandescent at seeing refugees being treated as pawns in the Convict’s survival. But Dopey Tom shrugged off their anger. They weren’t to be taken seriously because they didn’t have an alternative plan. Probably one of the more stupid of his many idiotic remarks. There’s no cure for Alzheimer’s, but that doesn’t make it a good idea to go around performing lobotomies on everyone with dementia. Some proposals are just intrinsically bad. And the Rwanda plan is one of them.

This didn’t stop the psycho club of male Tories overdosing on the excitement of other people’s misery. Peter Bone wasn’t bothered that there might be no one on the flight – at present there are just those whose case hasn’t been successfully challenged by lawyers – thought to be fewer than 10.

Robert Goodwill was adamant that Christians fleeing persecution would be far better off in Rwanda as the UK was basically an Islamic state. Or something. Julian Lewis declared that from now on the UK should be allowed to make up the laws for the entire world as we were the best country.

The ever rabid Brendan Clarke-Smith put the blame for any failures of the scheme firmly at the feet of “lefty lawyers” and charities. Bloody lawyers. Going around applying the law. Bloody charities. Going around being nice to those in trouble. Mike Woods was almost priapic as he announced that the courts had said that the flight could go ahead regardless of whether it was legal or not. Go figure. Labour’s Chris Bryant shouted: “Lefty lawyers.”

Johnson himself was getting involved in some law breaking of his own. It’s getting to be a habit. He tried to spin his disapplication of the Northern Ireland protocol as just a cosmetic formality. What we got was the usual Convict lies and doggybollocks. We needed to change the protocol because it was unfair that the EU was sticking to the deal that we had negotiated and signed. We needed to do so because the protocol went against the Good Friday agreement. And that had come first. Er … then maybe don’t sign up to a Brexit deal that also contravenes the GFA. Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated? That you’re being governed by morons. Or people who take you for a moron. Curiously, he didn’t triumphantly celebrate the publication of the bill with a statement where he could answer MPs’ question. Rather, he just slipped it out as late as possible in the day so it would receive as little scrutiny as possible.

To add insult to injury, the economy also shrank by 0.1% in April. Lucky us. The effortlessly anonymous junior treasury minister John Glen was sent out to explain why in response to another urgent question. It was like this, he said. If we were still doing millions of Covid tests and spending billions on track and trace then the economy would have grown. Brilliant. The Tory answer to the recession. Send for another pandemic.

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