An exquisitely funny sitcom that should be on the BBC

Agathe by Angela J. Davis follows the early phases of the Rwanda genocide 30 years ago. The subject, Agathe Uwilingiyimana, became prime minister on 18 July 1993 but her tenure ended abruptly when she was assassinated by a rioting mob which surrounded the UN compound where she was sheltering on 7 April 1994. She saved her children, according to some accounts, by sacrificing her own life. This is a rough-and-ready play that tells the story impressionistically through monologues, rap lyrics, news broadcasts and reconstructed scenes at the UN headquarters. It doesn’t pretend to offer a full historical account but it generates a horrible mood of impending doom. The most disturbing

Are the Houthi strikes working?

12 min listen

The UK launched a new set of strikes on eight Houthi targets last night. Typoon jets dropped £30,000 Paveway bombs on an underground storage site and surveillance and missile capabilities controlled by the Yemeni rebel group. But are the strikes working? The Houthis have continued to attack ships in the Red Sea, and a row has also started about whether government properly briefed Keir Starmer and Sir Lindsay Hoyle. Max Jeffery speaks to Katy Balls and Isabel Hardman.

Is the ERG a spent force?

12 min listen

After much back and forth, the Rwanda Bill passed last night with only 11 votes against while other critics, such as Lee Anderson who resigned his party role, abstained. Rishi Sunak can celebrate a small victory as it appears that the Brexit ‘Spartans’ of yesteryear are something of a spent force today. Cindy Yu talks to Katy Balls and Fraser Nelson. Produced by Cindy Yu.

Portrait of the week: tax cuts, hostage releases and highly rated horses

Home Rishi Sunak, the Prime Minister, said, ‘We can now move on to the next phase of our economic plan and turn our attention to cutting taxes,’ having seen a reduction in inflation. Jeremy Hunt, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, followed suit in the Autumn Statement, cutting personal taxes. The government was to make changes to long-term benefits. The minimum wage, known officially as the National Living Wage, currently £10.42 an hour for those over the age of 23, will rise to £11.44 an hour for those over 21 from next April. The government also drew attention to £8.3 billion allocated to mending potholes, money purportedly saved from the curtailment

Why the Supreme Court demolished the Rwanda scheme

In its simple and comprehensible judgment, the Supreme Court has dealt a crushing blow to the Home Office’s Rwanda policy this morning.   The court upheld the decision of the Court of Appeal that the policy was unlawful. It reached that view because it believed there were substantial grounds to think that asylum claims would not be properly determined by the Rwandan authorities. That would mean that asylum seekers might be returned to a country where their life or freedom would be threatened, or where they would be subject to a risk of torture or inhuman or degrading treatment.   The plan now looks dead in the water This would be

Gorillas in the mix: in search of Rwanda’s silverbacks

Two hours into a muddy hike through Rwanda’s Nyungwe rainforest and though I’ve been barked at by a baboon, crossed rivers of fire ants and stepped over a foot-long centipede, I have yet to see any chimpanzees, which is the reason I’m here.  My guide and our team of trackers are on the path ahead, armed with machetes, rifles and a walkie talkie. We’re looking for an alpha male called Kuyu. His morning calls echo in the distance and my guide tells me we’re not far from him. I hope he’s right. I am covered in Mosquito repellent clothing, I’m hot, tired and my enthusiasm is waning.  ‘Look up,’ says my

Gripping tale of Ireland’s most polite bank robber: I’m Not Here To Hurt You reviewed

There should really be a special word for it: that vicarious fragility you feel when hearing of a minor decision with catastrophically heavy consequences, as if a falling acorn had tipped a boulder. In the case of John O’Hegarty, the subject of the engrossing podcast I’m Not Here To Hurt You, the catalyst for disaster was a quick short cut the wrong way down a one-way Dublin street while working as a bicycle courier. It would ultimately lead him – an academic with a master’s degree in psychology – into heroin and crack cocaine addiction, followed by a stint as a bank robber and eight years in prison. With a

Is Sunak heading for a showdown over Rwanda?

When the Prime Minister first assembled his cabinet, the most controversial appointment was Suella Braverman as Home Secretary. She had only just left the role under Liz Truss after she admitted sending an official document from a personal email account. But when Truss fell, Braverman called for Rishi Sunak rather than a Boris Johnson restoration. She was back in the Home Office after less than a week. ‘It’s either stop the boats or leave the ECHR,’ says one senior Tory Some suspected a grubby deal between the two, but Sunak had plenty of reasons to want Braverman back. While critics accuse her of harbouring unsubtle leadership ambitions, her place in

The European court has seriously overstepped over Rwanda

Last night’s abrupt order from the European Court of Human Rights that led to the grounding of the first Rwanda deportation flight delighted progressives everywhere. They will of course say – rather in the fashion of twentieth-century home secretaries calmly refusing to reprieve a condemned murderer – that the law is merely taking its course, and that we should be proud that the rule of law has been upheld. This sounds comforting. It is also wrong-headed. The Rwanda debacle in fact raises very serious questions about the legitimacy of the Strasbourg judges and their interference with national administrations. To remind you of the background, concerted lawfare in the English courts

Stephen Daisley

Progressives, don’t cheer Rwanda’s setbacks

The last-minute halting of the first flight to Rwanda is humiliating for Boris Johnson’s government. An urgent interim measure from the European Court of Human Rights prompted a domino effect of domestic court orders that ended with the plane returning to base without passengers. The ECtHR’s order came down to three factors. First, that evidence from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and others suggested asylum seekers transferred to Rwanda ‘will not have access to fair and efficient procedures for the determination of refugee status’. Second, that the High Court had found ‘serious triable issues’ in the government’s decision to treat Rwanda as a safe third country on the grounds that

Is Boris willing to make the Rwanda plan work?

Priti Patel’s first go at deporting migrants to Rwanda is turning before our eyes into one of those answers from the TV quiz show Pointless – when you see the on-screen counter drop remorselessly towards zero. At the time of writing, the counter for the number of migrants to be flown out to Rwanda is down to seven – from an original list of 130. While Home Office officials continue to insist their chartered plane will take off tonight with at least some migrants on board, other parts of government do not seem so sure. So we could still be about to witness a completely pointless answer. There is no

In defence of meddlesome priests

The British constitution is best understood as a dinner party. Imagine the key institutions of national life personified and sat around a table debating the issues of the day. True, as you and I picture this scene it is now a little late in the evening, the surroundings are worn and some hitherto unheard voices are beginning to loudly bark above the polite murmur of the older interlocutors. But the conversation carries on. One of the longest-standing participants in this national conversation is the Church of England; indeed, perhaps only the Crown has been part of it for longer. The traditions of Toryism and liberalism are comparative newcomers, Labour even

Will the government stand up to mob rule?

A very big week is in store for the government’s strategy to tackle illegal immigration with all eyes on the planned first air transfer of irregular migrants to Rwanda, due to take place on Tuesday. Whether the flight takes off at all and how many migrants will be on board is yet to be seen. But the policy has already attracted strong adverse commentary from leading lights in Britain’s unelected establishment, from the Archbishop of Canterbury to the heir to the throne. But another struggle over the enforcement of immigration law is being waged at ground level, with the springing up of networks of local activists seeking to prevent immigration

Prince Charles is playing with fire

Charles is a prince on a perilous path. It’s a well-trodden one that is proving more problematic the closer he gets to having a crown placed on his head. He has opinions, who doesn’t. He wants to share them, like the rest of us. His decades long predicament is that he occupies a privileged position which should limit his ability to hold forth. His once private – and not denied – belief that the government’s plan to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda is ‘appalling’ is not the consensus view. A man teetering on the edge of inheriting a unifying role as Head of the Nation has entered a divisive debate

My phone call with God

Got slightly wrecked over the bank holiday weekend and had hoped to kind of glide through the early part of the week without too much requirement for that bane of the columnist, research – looking stuff up, talking to people, etc. But I crawled downstairs on Tuesday, switched on the laptop and there was a message bearing the address ‘Hey Rod, I might have something for you. Give me a call x.’ I hadn’t heard from Semp for three or four years, when he was a canny and ambitious junior press officer, helpful, disinclined to panic, never obsequious. Slightly grating Cardiff accent but other than that, a good sort.

Priti Patel is playing into Paul Kagame’s hands

If President Paul Kagame has been tracking the furore over Priti Patel’s plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda, he’s been doing it on the hoof. Kagame moves constantly these days: the news broke while he was en route to Barbados after a visit to Jamaica. In the past two months he has been to Congo-Brazzaville, Kenya (twice), Zambia, Germany (twice), Egypt, Jordan, Qatar, Mauritania, Senegal and Belgium. How the president of one of Africa’s poorest nations can afford all this travelling is a puzzle, and the fact that his Gulfstream jet is supplied by Crystal Ventures, his Rwandan Patriotic Front’s monopolistic investment arm, raises interesting budgetary questions. In a

What’s wrong with the Rwanda plan?

There are many unanswered questions about the government’s new policy of compelled expulsion to Rwanda of uninvited asylum claimants. Here are just a few. 1) What is the estimated cost per expelled refugee? None of the briefings give a clue. In its absence, how can the policy be assessed for its value for money, compared with the status quo? 2) What is the UK’s responsibility – moral, legal – if bad things (illness, accident, attack) happen to the expelled refugees after arrival in Rwanda? This would be a concern even if Rwanda did not have a recent history of trampling on civil liberties and basic human rights (see this report from

Stephen Daisley

The problem with Boris’s Rwanda solution

Is the Prime Minister’s plan to divert some asylum seekers to Rwanda racist? Is it inhumane? Is it a dead cat to distract from his fixed-penalty notice for breaching Covid rules? These are the questions fixating the political-media-activist class today and while they are not necessarily unimportant, they neglect a question that might be of more immediate concern to the average voter concerned about border integrity and abuse of the asylum system. Namely, will the Prime Minister’s plan work? To answer this, we must acknowledge its provenance in Australia’s policy of offshore processing, detention and turn backs, introduced in 2001 as John Howard’s Pacific Solution and reintroduced by Tony Abbott

When it comes to Africa, the media look away

Kenya We were flown around the country, hovering low over mobs using machetes to hack each other up Each time I sit in St Bride’s on Fleet Street during the memorial of another friend, I look around at the crowds they’ve been able to pull in and feel terribly envious. Riffling through the order of service and then the church’s book of correspondents to find the faces of old comrades, I’m like a man wondering if any guests will bother turning up to one’s own hastily arranged bring-a-bottle party. Our 1990s generation of Nairobi hacks has been severely depleted. While we survivors are not a distillation of complete bastards, it’s