The Rwanda flight is grounded – but migrants should be more than ammo in Tory MPs’ culture war

Editorial: This humiliation for the government was brought about not by ‘lefty lawyers’ but by government incompetence

Tuesday 14 June 2022 23:01 BST
(Dave Brown)

The most shameful civilian flight in British history has been postponed, thanks to an out-of-hours judge at the European Court of Human Rights. It was, as we know, en route to Rwanda. The fact that it has been postponed by judicial intervention doesn’t lessen the symbolic impact of a founding signatory to the United Nations, and to the European conventions on refugees, straining every sinew to abnegate a responsibility it solemnly entered into after the last world war.

In pursuing this deportation, not only has Britain definitively broken its international legal obligations, it has hurtled through a moral crash barrier. This is the act of a government that has made sadism a principle on which policy is written. As the Archbishop of Canterbury says: “The shame is our own because our Christian heritage should inspire us to treat asylum seekers with compassion, fairness and justice, as we have for centuries.”

Apparently, the policy is popular with some MPs and some voters. They are entitled to their view but will have to live with their conscience. Yet the Rwanda policy is a failure already, on its own terms. As a supposed deterrent – a description that reveals much about the government’s true intent – it has not worked, a fact made plain by the number of asylum seekers crossing the Channel on Tuesday even as the flight to Africa was set to take off.

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