Jennifer Stewart: The Eleventh Hour – News Block

What a razor edge drama. First, the government was going to forcibly transfer 100 asylum seekers to Rwanda. Then they realized that some could be actual victims. Ninety-three of them, as it happens. In the face of national and international outrage, including from the Archbishops of York and Canterbury and all 26 bishops in the House of Lords, the plan was kept on course. Against all odds, Ms Patel and Mr Johnson insisted that these deportations, all seven now, would magically stop other asylum seekers from trying to get here and, better yet, put an end to people smuggling. An innovative plan, Johnson boasted.

One that was tried by Israel and Australia and abandoned as ineffective and extremely expensive. Innovative by the way. Incredibly, the entire plan has yet to be deemed legal. So this deportation was either a cynical diversion or a gamble – with taxpayer dollars and the lives and well-being of asylum seekers who have come to this country for help – or both. I let that sink in for a minute.

Patel and Johnson thought they could get away with it. They had luck on her side for a while. First, a UK high court judge, Mr Justice Swift, ruled that the deportation could continue, although the legality had not been decided, because it was in the public interest. That’s revealing. What part of the public was he referring to? Aren’t judges supposed to be apolitical? Sure, some people hate asylum seekers if their skin isn’t white. Others think they could be given jobs and contribute to the economy and cultural diversity. Guess whose side Mrs. Patel is on. The judge added that the potential harm to deportees was “in the realm of speculation.” I guess that’s true, if you don’t bother to check the data. Something I would have thought a superior court judge would want to do.

Appeals to the Supreme Court were also dismissed. This is even more difficult to understand. Admitting that no decision had yet been made on the legality of the plan, they said they would send the deportees back and bring them back if the courts decide the plan is illegal. Tra la la No damage done. Except of course the deportees, already massively traumatized.

People’s lives were scattered all over the wall, along with taxpayers’ money. The justification of the judges of the Court of Appeals? The UK government assured that the deportees would be returned. Well that makes sense! We all know how truthful the UK government is. Of course they wouldn’t lie. Once again, thank goodness for freedom of information and what a shame that the Supreme Court judges didn’t bother to take advantage of it and check if Rwanda had a policy and infrastructure to return refugees. Which doesn’t. So the government guarantees were empty.

Which, of course, Ms Patel knew and Johnson didn’t care about at all, and which the judges could and should have found out for themselves.

Yesterday, at 10 pm, frantic last-minute requests to the ECtHR managed to reduce the number of sentenced to four. More government chest beatings. They were going to do this! Purely out of compassion. They were desperate to prevent people from drowning in the English Channel, heroically determined to eliminate gangsterism that exploits asylum seekers. And yes, of course it would be cost-effective to pay £500,000 to charter a 200-passenger plane to send four traumatized people on a ten-hour journey to a country with a shocking human rights record. The personnel were on board, the runway lights were on, the plane’s engines were warming up.

At literally the last moment, the ECtHR judge overturned the decisions of the UK judges and blocked all extractions. Because he checked whether Rwanda would send deportees back to the UK if the scheme were deemed illegal. It was not difficult for him to determine the truth. Unsurprisingly, a furious Johnson said that he might as well withdraw the UK from the ECHR. Patel boasted that the government will appeal, but since any appeal is unlikely to pass the ECHR, the next flight can probably only take place once the judicial review of the scheme concludes, around the end of July.

If everything goes fine. Which is unlikely for Boris Johnson, whose new cost-of-living czar, David Buttress, said not long ago: “Never confuse an expensive education with intelligence or integrity. I don’t think Boris is particularly blessed with either.” And breaking news! His ethics adviser, Lord Geidt, has just resigned in protest of Partygate, saying there was a “legitimate question” about whether Johnson breached ministerial code. Oh really.

If Johnson was hoping to put all that behind him and cause a big fun distraction so people forget what a liar and cheat he is, here’s the rub. This deportation plan has fooled no one, but it has further alienated his rogue MPs and big conservatives who like to cling to the idea that conservatives have integrity. They don’t like being dragged into the gutter or beaten with a bunch of bishops. Also, the The Honiton/Tiverton and Wakefield by-elections take place on June 23. If the Lib Dems and Labor win respectively, by the end of July, Boris Johnson could be out of reach and with him probably, possibly hopefully, Priti Patel.

It will be a good way to get rid of a staggeringly incompetent, intellectually challenged and terribly immoral duo, intolerant, cruel and opportunistic.

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