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by Louise Wilson
15 June 2022
Sketch: Priti Patel ‘politely disagrees’ sending people to Rwanda is wrong

Allstar Picture Library Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo

Sketch: Priti Patel ‘politely disagrees’ sending people to Rwanda is wrong

If nothing else, at least Priti Patel is incredibly polite as she defends the morally indefensible.

While opposition MPs poked hole after hole in the Rwanda asylum seeker plan – that its unethical, that there is no costing, that it’s unlikely to prevent smuggling as the UK government is claiming – Patel kept her cool, insisting she was waving away their concerns “with respect” and that she must “politely disagree” that the entire plan is immoral, impractical and unworkable.

She’s such a smooth operator, perhaps she should be employed by the Border police to conduct the removals herself. She’d politely tap on a person’s door at 5am, wait patiently on the doorstep for an answer. “Please, if you don’t mind awfully just coming with me to the immigration van. Thank you so much. And then, if it’s not too much trouble, if you can maybe just hop onto the plane waiting to carry you thousands of miles from the place you were seeking refuge, having already fled what I’m sure were some dreadfully horrid circumstances. Really sorry about this, old chap, but you see we must take back control of our borders. Thank you. Safe journey.”

The asylum seeker would be so baffled by it, they might just board the plane before they even realised what was happening. Kill ‘em with kindness, Patel. If, that is, she can keep that smirk off her face. You know the one – it’s the grin that signals she’s done something truly heinous.

The cancellation of last night’s flight to Rwanda after successful appeals by all expected passengers had clearly annoyed the home secretary. But at least it gave her a chance to criticise another one of her old enemies: the European Court of Human Rights.

She was, she said, “disappointed and surprised” the ECHR had stepped in. Her plan had been foolproof. It was a “world leading migration and economic partnership with Rwanda,” absolutely nothing to do with human rights or those pesky Europeans – especially since the UK had left their blasted club.

All the home secretary was trying to do was to “relocate the first people from our country who arrived here by dangerous and illegal means,” she said innocently. The plan was entirely designed to stop people smugglers. Which is why, naturally, it was focusing on the deportation of vulnerable people who had felt it necessary to make the dangerous journey, rather than action against actual smugglers.

Patel seemed to have a big chip on her shoulder that many of them “come from France”. Has the home secretary bothered to look at a map? Apparently not. Either that, or she would just rather only welcome those who have the cash to take a direct flight from their home country – she supposes she’ll accept those who fly economy as well as first class, if she must – than those forced to travel by another means. Perhaps she is simply supporting the air travel industry.

Labour’s Yvette Cooper tried her best to get some answers from the home secretary, only to be told by Patel that her summary of the scheme was wrong. Why? Well, Cooper had described it as unworkable and extortionate, “but it can’t be both”, Patel insisted. Because if it’s costing loads, it might be working! That attitude does at least go a long way to explain the NHS Track and Trace and PPE contract awards…

But of course, the Rwanda plan has almost nothing to do with asylum seekers and much more to do with distraction. The government needed a mighty dead cat to take attention from partygate, and this treatment of refugees fits the bill.

Patel railed against “mob rule” in her statement – referring to direct action taken by communities across the UK to prevent removal. But we all know the UK government would much prefer a flash mob than mob rule – with the hopes they may also be ambushed by cake.

Read the most recent article written by Louise Wilson - Sketch: Dominic Raab deputises as chief clown

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