Rwanda bill has Tories outcompeting each other to new levels of insanity | John Crace #Rwanda #bill #Tories #outcompeting #levels #insanity #John #Crace

First as tragedy. Then as farce. It’s come to this. Amazed that the Tory party can even look itself in the face, let alone the country. A government that has long since given up any pretence of governing, whose only principle is to have no principles. An amoral semi-sentient mass whose only goal is its own survival. Propped up by those who should know better.

It’s like we never left 2018. Those lawless days when Tory was pitted against Tory in a never-ending Brexit war. Each one high on their own self-regard. A drug-fuelled orgy of narcissistic indulgence. Each MP certain they were the Chosen One. The Messiah blessed with the higher knowledge of The Will of the People. Hell-bent on taking us all down with them. Mark Francois, Steve Baker and Bill Cash. Take a bow. Your names liveth forevermore.

Since then, the party has claimed to be in recovery. Observing regular meetings of Tories Anonymous. Admitting they were powerless over their addiction to chaos and that their lives had become unmanageable. Allowing us to believe they were on a spiritual journey away from their own self-destruction.

But they had been fooling themselves. Lying to us. They were no better than dry drunks. Just MPs getting through each day by their finger nails. Dreaming of their next fix. And now they’ve all relapsed big time. Fighting over the dirty syringe. Outcompeting each other to new levels of insanity.

Time was we just had the People’s Front of Judaea and the Judaean People’s Front. That was so last Brexit. With Rwanda we now have the grandiose Five Families, each certain that a lunatic, unworkable plan could only be improved by making it even more lunatic and unworkable. The Northern Research Group. The ERG. The Growth Group. The New Conservatives. And the most batshit of all, The Common Sense Group. It would be pathetic if they weren’t so dangerous.

In the other corner we have the One Nation Tories, the MPs who pride themselves on being the few remaining Conservatives with a vague grasp of reality. Only we can instantly discount them as an irrelevance because at the slightest hint of danger to themselves and their party, they melt away. They never really existed. They had never intended their whispers of doubt to be taken as dissent. Please, please. Just roll over us. We aren’t here.

Against this background of performative cruelty, James Cleverly opened the second reading of the Rwanda bill. He is now the best the government can offer, even though he shows no signs of really understanding the legislation he is proposing. Instead he just looks startled and quickly went on the defensive whenever challenged. He wears the badge of Jimmy Dimly with pride.

He began by mentioning the death of an asylum seeker on the Bibby Stockholm. He did not mention that the death was believed to be suicide. Jimmy D isn’t the best at joining up the dots: his failure to understand that his government’s actions have consequences absolute. The death cast a stain over the entire debate. Though for the most part the home secretary and Rishi Sunak just chattered and laughed together on the frontbench. Good to know they are enjoying themselves.

“We are stopping the boats,” Dimly insisted. You’re not. That’s the whole point. That’s why you’re introducing this batshit bill. Jimmy really makes intelligence look like hard work. And the bill was “novel”, he added. As in completely mad.

Dimly was going to just reconfigure reality. The truth would be whatever he said it was. George Orwell was demanding royalties. And the UK courts could sod off. They were a waste of space anyway. Far too concerned with determining the law. We are all moral and legal relativists now. Nor would we pay any attention to international law. Apart from Rwandan law. Because the Rwandans had insisted there must be some standards of international law. Such a shame.

Tory MP Daniel Kawczynski remarked that Rwanda was accused of sending rape squads into the Democratic Republic of Congo and that President Kagame had been compared to a modern-day Hitler. Jimmy D pumped out his chest in outrage. He had met Kagame and liked him immensely. And Kagame was no Hitler. He didn’t even have a moustache. That told him.

At this point, an unfamiliar figure appeared behind the speaker’s chair. The first appearance in the Commons of Peter Bone since he was accused of harassment and bullying. Bone denies the allegations and the Tories had clearly decided that – just for today – his presence in the voting lobbies would be most welcome. As would that of Graham Stuart, the climate change minister. Flown back from Cop28 before a deal had been reached in Dubai. Party before planet. Still, nothing that a bill saying climate change isn’t real won’t solve.

Up stepped Robert Jenrick. His conceit and self-importance overflowing. This was his moment. His leadership bid. His few acolytes priapic with excitement. He had taken the responsibilities of high office very seriously. That’s why he had waved through the planning permission of billionaire former pornographer Richard Desmond.

Honest Bob tried to look like a grownup. Look at me! Aren’t I a statesman? Speaking without notes! Me, Me, Me. All refugees were potential killers or burglars. He appeared profoundly untroubled by the death of a man on the Bibby Stockholm. All legal routes to challenge the legislation must be blocked. UK or international courts must be trampled underfoot. He couldn’t vote for such a bill.

But it soon turned out that others could. Geoffrey Cox had taken a day off from his legal practice to grace the Commons with his presence. He would be sending the Tory chairman a bill for loss of earnings. The Mighty Geoff had examined the bill carefully and declared it fit for purpose. Who would have guessed? And there was Bob Neill. The all-purpose useless wet. The bill nearly crossed a line that he couldn’t vote for. But not quite. A huge relief to a man in search of a principle.

Other Tories came and went. Some hinted at abstention but none said they would vote against the government. This was a level of unpleasantness and futility they could live with for now. Just get to Christmas. Let the bill fall apart in the new year. Maybe the new year would never come. Rish! had survived another day. More or less.

Depraved New World by John Crace (Guardian Faber, £16.99). To support the Guardian and Observer, order your copy and save 18% at Delivery charges may apply.

#Rwanda #bill #Tories #outcompeting #levels #insanity #John #Crace

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