The Rwanda treaty has established two new norms in politics. First, the Supreme Court acts as a revising chamber with the power to change government legislation. Secondly, Labour is terrified of Rwanda.
At PMQs, Sir Keir thought he was on a winning ticket and all he had to do was mock the relocation scheme and score an easy victory. He began with a joke: three Tory home secretaries have been sent to Rwanda but not one refugee.
Rishi ignored that and updated the house on Labour’s policy which is to ‘scrap the scheme if and when it is operational,’ he said. He concluded that Sir Keir ‘finds himself on the side of the people smugglers.’
Labour doesn’t realise how bad this will sound on the doorstep. Their leader supports foreign gangs whose illegal trade is making the housing market unaffordable.
Sir Keir did his genius-lawyer bit and gave the chamber a master-class in sifting through the small print of a brief. For him, every voter has a nit-picking legalistic brain. And he seems to imagine that elections are won on quibbles about loopholes and inconsistencies. He said the numbers of migrants earmarked for Rwanda had declined steeply, ‘from tens of thousands, to just hundreds.’ He added that ‘the Court of Appeal made it clear there’s housing for only 100’. And he compared this low tally with the total number sent to Rwanda so far: ‘It remains stubbornly consistent: zero.’
His backbenchers were chortling merrily at all this. Game set and match.
Sir Keir moved to ‘Article Nineteen’ of the treaty whose provisions he seems to have memorised overnight. This obliges us to accept Rwandan refugees who want to relocate to the UK. ‘How many from Rwanda are coming here?’ he wanted to know.