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Opinion: Channel Crossings Rwanda plan looks destined to fail just like jet skis

TRAINS, planes and boats...

If you are struggling to follow the legal machinations around the government's programme to process asylum seeker claims in Rwanda, you are unlikely to be alone.

Asylum seekers with two officials at Romney Marsh Submitted picture
Asylum seekers with two officials at Romney Marsh Submitted picture

The political hokey cokey that has played out this week has at times been teetering on the brink of farce.

Those chosen to be among the first to be flown out to have their applications processed in Rwanda were up and down the steps of the Boeing plane more often than holidaymakers off on a two-week package to the Costa del Sol.

The comings and goings - more of the former than the latter - gave opponents of the Rwanda scheme plenty of material with which to to maintain that the government had acted too hastily and was paying the price for not thinking through the repercussions.

For the Home Secretary Priti Patel the criticisms amounted to an affront to her genuine belief that she was doing the right thing and to impugn her motives was below the belt.

The subterranean politics around this issue are deeply uncomfortable for the Conservative partly because of the pledge that the UK would have power over its borders after Brexit.

Images of hundreds of asylum seekers landing on Kent’s shores in small boats are not the backdrop the government wants.

It has tried and failed several times to find a way of repelling the boats - including the bizarre idea of using people on jet skis to hold back flotillas - and precisely none have worked.

Now this new policy of sending would-be migrants to Rwanda looks like it could also fail. As ever it will be the lawyers and the judges who will shoulder the blame.

The government has found a useful bogeyman in the form of the European Court of Human Rights

but unless and until the UK finds a way through the legislative thickets, it looks as though its latest attempt to curb the numbers will be frustrated.

SEISMIC may not accurately depict the outcome of a council by-election in Sevenoaks but there has been some interest in the verdict delivered by voters in the ward of Penshurst, Fordcombe and Chiddingstone.

Sevenoaks MP Laura Trott
Sevenoaks MP Laura Trott

Why? Because a chink in Kent’s blue wall has been breached and turned yellow by the Liberal Democrats, whose candidate, Richard Streatfeild, pulled off something of an electoral coup.

The ward was such a rock solid Conservative seat that in recent elections it has gone uncontested by the other parties.

After the success of the party in neighbouring Tunbridge Wells, where the Conservatives lost control for the first time in two decades, could we be seeing a revival of a party that too many had lost its way?

Either way it seems the Conservatives have got a little jittery about the advances being made by the Liberal Democrats.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves: the party is well-skilled in pulling off electoral upsets in by-elections but that doesn't necessarily convert to securing parliamentary seats.

And the current MP Laura Trott has a hefty majority of 20,818, requiring a swing of 20.3% for it to fall to the Lib Dems. Even in a by-election that would be a tough ask.

A BID by a Labour peer to end the selective education system in those areas where grammar schools still exist will get precisely nowhere but that is not the point.

The attempt by Baroness Blowers to introduce legislation through a Private Members Bill is designed to put the issue under the spotlight.

And it will require the government to respond, particularly to the question of whether it supports the idea of new grammar schools.

The Secretary of State for Education Nadihm Zahawi has to date been slightly ambiguous about the government's position, praising grammar schools for their ‘fantastic ethos’ and his desire to spread their DNA through the education system.

That qualified support falls short of reversing the current ban, which was set out by the Conservative Education secretary David Willetts in 2007.

His argument that grammar schools did nothing to improve social mobility did not go down well with many Tories but does not look like being reversed anytime soon.

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