A few rightly predicted that the flight would never take off. We recognised that due to the legislative barriers, which we had for a long time been campaigning to scrap, the lawyers would make short work of dismantling the government’s aims and halting the removals.
In spite of this, the government pressed ahead with the plans and the left wing press and activists helped them sell a dud by mocking holy anger at how horrific and inhumane these plans were. Surely they must have known the flights would never take off, but perhaps the opportunity to virtue signal and bemoan the ‘nasty Tories’ was too opportune to turn down.
Alas, in doing so, they fell into the Prime Minister’s trap and sufficiently diverted attention away from Partygate – a unanimously damnable affair – onto the Rwanda flight, which outside of the M25 remains a popular policy (in principle, if not practice.)
Which does lead one to question the intentions of the Rwanda plan, which has so far been nothing short of a total failure to achieve its stated aims; but a resounding success in saving Boris Johnson’s hide and distracting from his scandals.
Masterfully, the failure of this plan is a responsibility the Prime Minister can deftly shift onto the lawyers, the activists, and the lefty press – painting him as the bloodied martyr, trying with all his might to exact the will of the people but frustrated at every turn by the true enemies of the people. A cunning wheeze from a former journalist who knows how to manipulate the press.
It is hard not to feel that this was all along the plan, and a cynical one at that, because surely the Prime Minister must have known that the European Court of Human Rights would overrule the flight. Surely, the Prime Minister must have known that there are a number of legislative barriers to a plan like this.
If the Prime Minister did not know, then surely his advisors knew. Surely, if his advisors did not know, the government’s legal experts would have spotted this gambit. If not then the state of our governance is worse than any of us could have imagined, and a damning indictment against the basic level of competence we expect from our elected representatives and their chosen advisors.
If, however, the flaws in the plans were known and the plan was announced regardless of those flaws it must have been to serve that ulterior motive. Which begs the question of why we would send £120m of taxpayer money to Rwanda just in order “to establish the partnership” when we knew that this partnership would likely never yield any fruit.
I can imagine now the Rwandan government discussing, with some bemusement, why the British Prime Minister would want to send the £120m of free money for a scheme which, by his own laws, would never materialise. One can hardly blame them for taking us up on our offer.
If the Prime Minister were in fact serious about handling these Channel crossings, the first order of priority would be to cut down the legislative barriers which prevent any plan, or plane, from taking off. We must withdraw from the European Court of Human Rights with immediate effect and take back control of our borders. If the arbiters of our borders rule from Strasbourg we are in no meaningful sense a self-governing nation, and the one claim Boris has to have ‘Got Brexit Done’ will be bunkum and bluff, and history will not remember him kindly.
The government has not only failed on preventing illegal immigration, but also let the country down on its promise to slash immigration overall. A record number of visas were issued last year. On both illegal and legal migration, the government has failed the people.
Ultimately, we must not allow Rwanda to distract from the real question, which is why after 12 years of Conservative government, almost a quarter of which have been under Boris Johnson and his 80-seat majority, has their record on immigration been so appalling?
*Benjamin Loughnane is the Bow Group’s research fellow for Migration.