Opinion

'Rwanda plan' row yet another example of how this Tory government is unfit to be in power

The Irish News view: Sending out hapless Chris Heaton-Harris to defend controversial asylum scheme reflects Rishi Sunak's desperation

Prime minister Rishi Sunak insists his new Rwanda legislation will help 'stop the boats', while his party needs a life raft to save it from its own divisions and failures. PICTURE: JAMES MANNING/PA
Prime minister Rishi Sunak insists his new Rwanda legislation will help 'stop the boats', while his party needs a life raft to save it from its own divisions and failures. PICTURE: JAMES MANNING/PA Prime minister Rishi Sunak insists his new Rwanda legislation will help 'stop the boats', while his party needs a life raft to save it from its own divisions and failures. PICTURE: JAMES MANNING/PA

It has become axiomatic that this shambolic Tory government is unfit to be in power. Now, deep into the final act of a self-immolating political drama so absurd that it might be modelled on a Samuel Beckett play, it is determined to prove its hopelessness.

The latest fiasco centres on the 'Rwanda plan', which the government has convinced itself is key to delivering on its pledge to 'stop the boats'.

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As any reasonable person must recognise, the idea that asylum seekers arriving in the UK should be forced on to a conveyor belt of long-haul flights to Rwanda is fatally overwhelmed by the stench of desperation.

In an emphatic judgment last month, the Supreme Court ruled the obnoxious policy unlawful. But this Conservative party is a stranger to common sense and compassion, and prime minister Rishi Sunak is pressing ahead. He hopes rejigged legislation and a treaty with Rwanda will get matters back on track.

Mr Sunak should of course rip up the policy. It is mean spirited and wicked, though it is apparently neither mean spirited nor wicked enough for some of his MPs, who want to turn the UK into a pariah state by abandoning the European Convention on Human Rights and its obligations.

They include Robert Jenrick, who resigned as immigration minister because he thinks Mr Sunak's latest proposal is too cautious – a Damascene conversion that came hours after he had passionately argued that it was a wonderful idea. Mr Jenrick now finds himself in the same camp as Suella Braverman, a destination which ought to give any politician cause for self-reflection.

Secretary of state Chris Heaton-Harris made a number of unconvincing media appearances on Thursday as he defended Rishi Sunak's Rwanda plan, including a bruising appearance on LBC
Secretary of state Chris Heaton-Harris made a number of unconvincing media appearances on Thursday as he defended Rishi Sunak's Rwanda plan, including a bruising appearance on LBC Secretary of state Chris Heaton-Harris made a number of unconvincing media appearances on Thursday as he defended Rishi Sunak's Rwanda plan, including a bruising appearance on LBC

The disarray in Downing Street was evidenced by the fact that it believed that secretary of state Chris Heaton-Harris was the best person to present Mr Sunak's case during a moment of crisis. Things are indeed bleak when Mr Heaton-Harris is the answer to the question.

He gave the Rwanda policy the reliably hapless defence that one would expect from a man whose political judgment attained its apogee when he backed Boris Johnson's return as prime minister.

Read more:Tories only concerned with saving their own skin

There has been speculation that the next general election could be in May, though it is entirely possible that the Conservatives will implode before then.

This has implications for whatever calculations the DUP are making about ending their Stormont boycott and how an incoming Labour government – an increasingly likely prospect – will deal with the north.