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Sketch: Sympathetic Sue feels for France-bound families

Credit: Iain Green

Sketch: Sympathetic Sue feels for France-bound families

Suella Braverman really feels for those holidaymakers stuck in traffic in the south of England. Her heart bleeds, no, really, it does.

Speaking on Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg, with almost a hint of humanity and possibly a tear in her eyes (not that she has any real comprehension of what that watery substance leaking down her cheek could mean), she tells the journalist: “I really sympathise with families and schoolchildren who are trying to get to France for their Easter holidays. No one wants to be waiting for hours or overnight at Dover in a coach.”

Imagine that. Being confined to a tiny mode of transport for hours, waiting and hoping for the good news that you can cross a border and won’t be turned away.

The home secretary has a very, very limited capacity for sympathy and we now know it is all used up on British tourists looking to gorge on wine, cheese and croissants on their holibobs but frustrated by a logjam at the Channel.

For refugees, on the other hand, who have travelled thousands of miles, fleeing their homeland in search of a better life, Suella’s eyes are as dry as the desert she would like to banish them to. Unfortunately, none of those countries wanted to deal with her, so she settled for Rwanda instead.

Braverman believes she is a one-woman, crime-fighting superhero. She’s standing up to “evil people-smuggling gangs”… by packing the victims of those smugglers off to Africa where they don’t belong or want to go to. Super Sue to the rescue.

Putting on her best impression of a person with compassion, she says the Rwanda plan “will have a significant deterrent effect”. “

People will stop making the journey in the first place,” she says, “they’ll stop paying the evil people smuggling gangs in the first place, and numbers will come down.”

Then she adds, in case no one believed her unconvincing performance: “That’s not just a speculation.”

And what about the suggestion, by the UN no less, that Rwanda is not a suitable place for refugees? “I am convinced that it is safe to send refugees to Rwanda,” she replies robotically.

Ignore the reports that 12 refugees were shot dead there after protesting against food rationing by Rwandan authorities – she was “not familiar” with that incident, apparently. That information hadn’t been downloaded into her system. Or if it had, her security software had simply marked it as phishing spam – a scam to make her feel something, anything, for other people.

Even after being confronted with footage of the protest, the home secretary remains poker-faced. The incident was way back in 2018 and we are now talking about “2023 and beyond”, not the ancient history of five years ago.

To be fair to the home secretary, back in we were in the middle of Brexit battles. Theresa May was prime minister. No one had even heard of the very junior minister Rishi Sunak. And Boris Johnson was still, for some, a hero. That does feel a very long time ago…

Besides, the home secretary visited Rwanda recently and saw it for herself. “We’re on strong ground to say Rwanda is a safe country,” she insists, offering no evidence for her statement. You just need to trust her.

But on the off chance a refugee isn’t being treated well – an “outside chance”, Braverman assures us – there are legal routes through which to challenge relocation. But also, the home secretary has cracked down on those legal routes because they are too often used in “vexatious and frivolous ways to thwart our ability to remove them or detain them”. No one can accuse this home secretary of overthinking the problem.

Moving on, Kuenssberg asks about Braverman’s pledge to reduce migration down to the “tens of thousands”. Well, says the home secretary, you can’t compare legal and illegal migration – which was an answer, but not to the question being asked. Kuenssberg tries again.

“We’ve taken back control of our migration rules after Brexit,” bleats Braverman, loyal to the Brexiteers, the only people she considers important.

A clearly exasperated Kuenssberg tries once more, insisting her question is a “clear” one. Does the home secretary still support migration coming down to the tens of thousands?

“The clear answer I can give you is that I support our manifesto commitment to get overall migration numbers down,” replies Braverman. Yes, all very clear. Clear that she is quite happy to drop her personal values if there is a ministerial salary in it.

So who, really, does she want to be as home secretary? “I want to be a home secretary who gets things done, a do-er, and someone of action and results. Overwhelmingly, I want to be a home secretary – I hope am a home secretary – who speaks really for the patriotic, law-abiding, often silent majority… A home secretary that’s going to tell the truth about problems we are grappling with in our society without fear of offending celebrities or media outlets.”

It was like ChatGPT made up a speech using Margaret Thatcher, Enoch Powell and Jeremy Clarkson for inspo.

And the truth she wants to tell is that British people queuing at Dover deserve our sympathies but refugees do not. Those refugees have skipped the non-moving queue to get into the UK, and queue-skipping is very much against British values – something she is keen to uphold above all else.

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