MYTHS and lies surrounding asylum seekers entering the UK have never been more overstated, shameless and dishonest than right now. 

The UK Government has whipped up a right-wing frenzy to scapegoat vulnerable asylum seekers to save the Covid rule-breaking skulls of the Prime Minister, Chancellor of the Exchequer and assorted Number 10 staff. 

The “big idea” is let’s send them all to Rwanda. Before I get onto that ridiculous and egregious folly – which has all the credibility of Boris Johnson’s London garden bridge or Irish Sea bridge – let’s deal with the myths.

“Those coming into the country across the English Channel are illegal immigrants”. That isn’t true. International law allows people to claim asylum in the UK as a safe haven. 

You’re legally entitled to make a claim from any place that you can get to or where you have ties – whether cultural, language, relatives or networks.

It’s a myth to assert people must seek asylum in the first safe haven country they arrive in – if that were so, the UK would never take any refugees as an island state surrounded by ocean and seas. 

“They’re entering the UK via France”. France accepts three times more asylum seekers than the UK. We’re an island nation and people have to enter somehow – crossing by sea is an obvious albeit dangerous route. 

“We’ve too many illegal immigrants”. About 30,000 human beings enter the UK each year crossing the English Channel. Out of that number 98% claim asylum. Of those who claim asylum more than 75% (including on appeal) go on to be deemed refugees with a right to live in the UK.

What does this tell us? Most people entering the UK by crossing the English Channel are fleeing persecution and are genuine refugees. 

Out of EU countries the UK ranks 11th on the list for the highest number of asylum seekers accepted. 

Greece and Hungary take in more asylum seekers than the UK. In the last month Poland took in two million Ukrainian refugees.  

There are some 26 million people around the world seeking asylum. The UK’s annual quota of 30,000 is tiny for one of the world’s richest countries. 

Against all of these myths we have the announcement last week from the Prime Minister that the UK will begin sending some asylum seekers who have entered the country from January to Rwanda for “processing” and “relocation”. We’ve scant details about this hairbrained scheme other than an initial payment of £120m will be paid to Rwanda.

We do have the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by our Home Secretary, Priti Patel MP and Rwanda’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Vincent Biruta in Kigali on April 13. It’s a five-year deal.

What the MoU tells us is that the UK will forcibly deport asylum seekers by putting them on a plane to Rwanda. 

Once in Rwanda the asylum seeker can seek asylum in Rwanda under its domestic laws and the UN Refugee Convention. We pay the tab, but they’re gone for good.

Can the UK lawfully fulfil its international legal obligations under the UN Refugee Convention by sub-contracting its duties to a third-party state? 

In my opinion I don’t think so. There is ample caselaw against the ability to delegate legal obligations. It’s like trying to privatise Parliament. 

And clearly Johnson and Patel have been told this because consider paragraph 23.2 of the MoU: “In the event that an order issued by a court of the United Kingdom or Rwanda prevents the lawful operation or implementation of the transfer arrangements under this arrangement, the period during which the transfer arrangements cannot be implemented lawfully will not count towards the five-year period in paragraph 23.1.”

This looks to me like the UK has entered into a very expensive contract that will fall flat on its face because it will be legally challenged. 

This bizarre and immoral attempt for the UK to shirk its international legal duties is clearly at odds with various rights safeguarded by the UN Refugee Convention and the Human Rights Act 1998.

It’s like Johnson and Patel have just announced they paid £120m to buy the Eiffel Tower or Brooklyn Bridge.

It’s a costly fop, a flop, a con, a connivance and legal disaster that can only rebound on them.  One can also see a discrimination law challenge to the MoU and policy unless it also applies to Ukrainian refugees.  

Has this attack on the rule of law been done to help the Prime Minister’s party vote before the local government elections on May 5? 

Or to detract the calls for him to resign standing his multiple police fines over partygate? Who knows? 

Whatever the rationale, one thing is clear. 

The UK Government’s miserable Rwanda policy has all the hallmarks of the £350m per week promise to the NHS that was written on the side of a bus. How many times can you fool people?