Refugees, welcome to Schrödinger’s Rwanda

Philosophers delight in the concept of Schrödinger’s cat, a cat that is both inside a box and outside a box at the same time. (Ironies genoeg, the somewhat scatty Erwin Schrödinger himself had forgotten that he owned two identical cats, one of which liked boxes while the other hated them, explaining his confusion.) Eendag, philosophers will also discuss the idea of Schrödinger’s Rwanda: a place at once so awful that the very thought of being deported there will deter asylum seekers from crossing the Channel and yet simultaneously so brilliant that asylum seekers should be delighted to be sent there with no possibility of ever coming back to the UK. The human traffickers who send people across the Channel are despicable. And so their victims, many of them already having enjoyed torture and abuse at home, must be further punished by being deported to Rwanda. It’s an illogicality that Alice in Wonderland would have seen through in an instant. And so did the European court of human rights. Off with their heads!

It’s very early on a Thursday morning and I am still tapping away, alone with black coffee and toast. Reality is kaleidoscoping. I could have filed this week’s so-called “funny column” ™ ® at midday yesterday, 18 hours ago, as I have every right so to do. But I fell asleep listening to Priti Patel dissembling on Rwanda, following prime minister’s questions at lunchtime, after she was trapped in a net made of hard facts and human decency by her opposite number, Yvette Cooper. Nyaaagh! It burns! It burns!! I’m melting!!!

The home secretary was as boring and repetitive, and yet oddly relaxing, as the short cycle of diaphanous library music they pipe in to soundtrack the jellyfish display at the Sea Life Aquarium. But Priti’s Theme was written entirely in Black Sabbath Tony Iommi tritones and played by ghouls on xylophones made from the ribcages of the Kabul embassy dead. I woke up halfway through and thought I had died and gone to hell. No brimstone. No fire. Just listening to tape recordings of Patel while standing waist deep in a lake of coffee. For ever. Could be worse. And then a bell rings and the devil shouts: “All right lads, coffee break’s over. Back on your heads!” I’m here all week! Try the chicken igisafuria!! Don’t forget to tip your Private Security Contractor!!! Their focus is on treating the people in their care with dignity and respect and they are confident that their officers have acted professionally!!!!

It was lucky I didn’t submit today’s “comedy” early, as a lot has happened since lunchtime: the EU has begun legal action against the UK over our criminal abandonment of the Northern Ireland protocol; our prime minister has confirmed that he is considering withdrawing Britain, like our economic and kleptocratic soulmate Russia, from the European court of human rights; and the prime minister’s ethics adviser, the pork belly windsock known as Lord Geidt, realised his time was up and quit his post, having at last grown a vestigial tail (to call it a spine would be generous).

Geidt finally agreed that Johnson’s, and his cronies’, wine and Abba antics may have broken the ministerial code or at the very least a child’s garden swing. Skielik, an afternoon is a long time in politics. Hopefully, Johnson will manage to soldier on bravely without someone to advise him on ethics. It would be awful if, without a moral mentor, Johnson were to suddenly find himself lying, cheating and repeatedly breaking international law.

Under normal circumstances, any one of these bombshells would have blown up the news cycle and made my columnist job easy. Roll out the barrel and hand me the blunderbuss! These fish are toast!! But this kind of chaos seems calculated. Numerous event-shits are tossed by hand into the news-fans from different angles and critical onlookers are too busy dodging the foul splatterings to remember Partygate and the missing billions the Brexit government has funnelled through the pandemic into the pockets of friends and donors. Kyk! Over there!! Our old enemy Europe!!! With its snails and its sauerkraut and its “human rights”.

Maandag, future city square statue subject and stained-glass windowed national saint-in-waiting Carole Cadwalladr survived legal persecution by Leave.EU’s Arron Banks. More links between Russia and the desirously destabilising goal of Brexit were highlighted. But even this didn’t really register in the wider news-scape. What’s a soupçon of Russian influence between friends? It’s not like Banks was flying back drunk from private parties at the villa of the subsequently Johnson-ennobled son of a KGB agent. Is distracting from this sort of thing just what the Rwandan deportation programme is for? Fly, my pretties, fly!

The deportation flight to Rwanda was always a win-win situation for the Brexit government, whether it left the tarmac or not. Schrödinger’s cat gives us Schrödinger’s Rwanda, which in turn gives us Schrödinger’s Dead Cat, a policy that succeeds even if it fails. If the asylum seekers were shipped out illegally, that plays well to the worst aspects of the Brexit government’s base. And if they weren’t, that gives the Brexit government, the comforts of the EU suddenly looking dangerously desirable, another range of Orwellian enemies – do-gooding lawyers, lefty charity activists, European “late-night” judges and the very idea of “human rights” itself.

The pockets of protesters currently engaged in street battles against police officers forced to carry out snatch raids on immigrants are a last line of defence against a Home Office that cannot be trusted to act ethically. Your children study the rise of Hitler in history and are asked how the people of 30s Germany allowed their country to slide into fascism. Wel, now we can tell them. Kids, look out of the classroom window. It was like this…

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