Guest article by Peter Black Peter Black: November 2023
The Independent reports that despite yesterday's uanimous high court ruling, the UK Government plan to press on with their plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda.
The paper says that the new Home Secretary, James Cleverly has revealed that the government’s plan B is “ready”. Meanwhile, a rattled Rishi Sunak said he would introduce emergency legislation to stop “foreign courts”, such as the European Court of Human Rights, from blocking flights to Kigali. He vowed to get planes in the air by spring next year.
Any thoughts that ministers have completely lost the plot in thinking that they can legislate in the UK Parliament to make Rwanda a safe destination are surely correct. In fact, even the Home Secretary appears to have doubts.
The Guardian reveals that in the Commons yesterday Yvette Cooper, his Labour shadow, alleged that in private Cleverly had described the Rwanda policy as “batshit”:
Cleverly has been doing an interview round this morning and, while not the main focus, this issue has come up. Although he did not admit using the phrase, anyone watching or listening to his interviews will conclude that he did indeed, at least once in private, describe the centrepiece of the government’s policy for dealing with irregular migration, beloved of rightwingers, as “batshit”.
Asked about the comment on Sky News, he replied: “I don’t recognise that phrase.”
Asked again on BBC Breakfast, he “squirmed” (in the words of the Mirror) and said this was a claim made about him, not by him, and claimed he could not remember using the word.
And when the question got asked again on the Today programme, Cleverly laughed unconvincingly and claimed the interviewer was falling into a trap laid by Labour.
All of which means that Sunak has appointed a new home secretary who – almost certainly, at least once – has expressed views on the Rwanda policy more in line with those of Guardian readers than Daily Mail readers. In the Conservative party, that will have been noted.
Is there an actual grown-up in the room after all? We will have to see.