It’s not festive cheer and good-will to all men in the Conservative Party this Christmas. Once again the Tories are barely clinging on.
Rishi Sunak faced a vote on his Rwanda policy on Tuesday—the day after he appeared before the Covid inquiry. It is supposedly his “worst week as prime minister”. It seems every other week is his worst week.
The splits over the Rwanda deportation policy have led to resignations, rows and a knife edge vote in parliament. But for the groups who are debating whether to vote in line with Sunak or against, it’s all about political manoeuvres.
Different groups of MPs have been deciding their stance on the new Rwanda deportation bill, in the run up to the second reading in the Commons on Tuesday.
Some were plotting to vote for the bill—but only so that they could get the Safety of Rwanda measure to the next stage and inflict more racist damage through amendments.
For others, it’s not even about the scheme. They wanted to cause as much chaos for Sunak as possible to shake him from the leadership. The splinters are characterised as on “the right” of the Tory party. But every Tory—from the critics of the bill to Sunak himself—are racist and pro-ruling class.
Sunak’s Rwanda plan was deemed “not fit for purpose” by the Supreme Court. Now he is doing all he can to show he can keep his promises by bypassing the courts and getting the policy through.
The last time a bill was defeated during its second reading was 1989 when 72 Tory backbenchers voted against the Shops Bill. The fact that the demise of the Rwanda bill was even a possibility shows how weak and fragile the Tories are.
In the same week, Sunak was also up in front of the UK Covid-19 Inquiry. He was questioned over his “eat out to help out scheme” that caused another wave of Covid, and his nickname “Dr Death”.
England’s chief medical officer Prof Sir Chris Whitty had nicknamed it “eat out to help the virus” and said key scientists weren’t consulted. Sunak could’ve thrown his predecessor Boris Johnson under the bus—but the fragility of the Tories risked imploding his party further.
At the injury the week before Johnson defended Sunak over the eat out scheme, claiming that it would help women who predominantly worked in the hospitality sector.
Sunak was also questioned over not having access to his WhatsApps and his role in decision making. He took a different line to other former cabinet members who complained of a toxic and “dysfunctional” Downing Street in 2020.
Sunak said the atmosphere “felt fine to me”. And that while Johnson was the “ultimate decision maker” who took his time to supposedly get things right, no cabinet member was side-lined.
But the architects of Covid disaster—Johnson and Sunak—should be made to pay a heavy price for the misery and death they inflicted. Above all else, they put profits first.
Starmer promises to be even more ruthless on refugees
The Labour Party is ready to be just as racist as the Tories if it forms a government. Its leadership may not say this outright, but that’s the message.
Keir Starmer’s consistent line is that Labour would “smash the smuggling gangs” to stop the crossings in the English Channel and secure Britain’s borders. For him this means being “twice as ruthless”.
In reality he means being ruthless against refugees. Starmer has consistently been against the Tories’ Rwanda deportation policy. But that’s not because he thinks carting refugees across the world is abhorrent.
He wants to protect Britain’s borders in a more effective way. “Smashing the gangs” is simply code for “we’ll be better and cheaper at keeping people out”.
Deals with the European Union, hiring more enforcement and border staff and even keeping refugees on prison ships are Labour’s solutions.
Starmer’s opposing of the Rwanda scheme, and criticising Tory immigration policies, is also part of his plan to destabilise the government in the hope it’ll bring about an election early.
In a speech coinciding with the fourth anniversary of Labour’s 2019 electoral defeat, Starmer proclaimed that Labour is “ready to serve”.
And, following his praise of Margaret Thatcher, he reminded the Labour left that they are no longer welcome in his party. “You know that this is a party that has fundamentally changed,” Starmer said.
“Not just a paint job, but a total overhaul. A different Labour Party, driven by your values. By British values.” Those British values, according to Starmer, are protecting the borders.
He has already said that people smugglers would be treated on par with terrorists, and Labour would work closer with the EU to share intelligence.
The Labour leadership also takes great pleasure in criticising Rishi Sunak from the right—laughing at his failure to deport refugees and not meeting migration targets.
“They’ve now sent more home secretaries than they have asylum seekers to Rwanda,” Starmer chortled at a prime minister’s question time.
If Starmer and Labour really wanted to smash smuggling gangs, they’d open up more legal and safe routes for refugees so that they don’t rely on deadly crossings. In reality the attacks on the Rwanda plan and waving of the Union Jack is a warning that Labour will not be a break from the Tories’ racism.