Mr Howard's personal deportation order

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The controversial decision to deport the Home Secretary, Michael Howard, has been stoutly defended by the Government.

Commentators say that the Government was very clever in slipping the announcement out over a weekend during which the British public seemed obsessed with the National Lottery to the exclusion of all else.

In fact, most of the British public still seems totally unaware that Mr Howard has been given seven days to leave the country and the press is playing it down for fear that the Government may change its mind.

"This deportation has nothing to do with the fact that Michael Howard comes of immigrant stock," said a spokesman from a rejoicing Home Office. "There is, in fact, some little-known legislation under which we could have deported Michael Howard, on the grounds that the original decision to admit his forefathers was obviously, in retrospect, a faulty one. But we did not want to make a martyr out of Mr Howard. We did not want him to be seen as a victim of the same repressive policies that he has been so vigorously promoting all these years.

"Nor did we want to embarrass people like Amnesty, who might suddenly find themselves in the position of defending a man like Michael Howard as a victim of racism or ethnic oppression. It simply wouldn't have been fair on Amnesty.

"No, this decision to deport Mr Howard is a straightforward business decision. Just as the Government wishes to keep on good terms with the Saudi regime and is prepared to deport Saudi dissidents to do so, so the Conservative Party wishes to keep on good terms with the British electorate and to be re-elected for another profitable, hughly lucrative term in office. Our market research has shown that there are certain persons in office who are perceived to be an electoral liability. John Selwyn Gummer is one, and Virginia Bottomley is another."

But surely they are still in office?

"Ah, they are still in evidence, but they are being gradually withdrawn from circulation and I think you will find by the time of the next election that they are no longer legal tender, as it were. But Michael Howard is the name that keeps coming up in our private polls as most detrimental to Tory hopes, and so it makes sense to get him out of the way before he does any more damage."

But surely you can't deport a man simply to improve your election hopes?

"Of course not. There are sound business and commercial reasons as well."

Such as?

"Well, you may from time to time have switched on your television set during the Conservative Party conference ..."

No, I have not.

"Well, if you had, you would have come across the unedifying sight of Mr Howard frothing over his spectacles and shouting 'Prison works! Prison works!' and promising wildly to build many more prisons to house our criminals.

"Now, not only is Mr Howard wrong about prison working - all the evidence suggests that prisons brutalise without reforming, thus creating more, not fewer, criminals - but building prisons costs a lot of money. So having this penal maniac in charge of the Home Office is proving ruinously expensive for the country. Therefore, getting rid of him will save us a lot of money.

"Already we have the highest per capita prison population in Britain. Mr Howard is, bluntly, bankrupting the country for his own cranky ideas. We cannot afford not to deport him, especially now he has decided to waste further money on prosecuting dying Nazi war criminals.

"Nor is that all. As Mr Howard refuses to take the blame or responsibility for anything, we are constantly finding that the people in charge of prisons are being fired by him as scapegoats or are resigning because they find him impossible to work with.

"They say he is a knee-jerk politician and forms policy by knee-jerk reaction to tabloid headlines."

Is that fair? Would the spokesman agree with the "knee-jerk" accusation, for example?

"Well, not entirely. Knee, no. Jerk, perhaps."

And how will Michael Howard be spending his last seven days in Britain?

"He will be looking for a country that is prepared to accept him. Now, this could well become a full-time occupation ..."