There’s not much Christmas spirit in Westminster at the moment.
Instead we have a flailing Prime Minister fighting for his political life. The immediate problem is his Rwanda plan to send asylum seekers as a deterrent to stop the boats crossing, which keep on coming. His plan has few friends. Critics say the numbers involved – Rwanda has capacity to take around 100 – will hardly touch the surface with 165,000 backlog cases. But it’s even worse, Britain can send around 100 people but Rwanda can send an unspecified number of their asylum seekers here, with no estimate of cost. Rwanda can send back an unspecified number of criminals, we cannot. We pay costs up to 5 years, Rwanda pays nothing. No wonder the cost is raising eyebrows.
The Prime Minister’s plan may survive for now only because its critics have little common ground. But the political reality is he needs to stop now. He will inevitably blame the Opposition but we have a better plan. We would set up an elite force to dismantle the smuggling gangs. Their business model can be dismantled like any other serious and organised crime gang. The backlog of cases has to be reduced, resettlement routes need reforming, better return agreements are possible and more needs to be done to tackle the push factors at source. Instead we have a third unworkable plan from the Government intended to make headlines. But these are the wrong headlines for the Prime Minister who may find that for him it will be anything but a Happy New Year.