Hotel Rwanda is the insane result of Boris Johnson’s random country generator

We knew things were serious, because the Prime Minister unleashed his characteristic “reading things” voice. Gone are the avian swallowing noises that usually punctuate his delivery (“Bah! Uhhh! Buh! Bleargh!”—like a turkey that smokes 40 a day.) Instead, as he unveiled his new plan to cope to Channel migrants, the Prime Minister tried to sound as reasonable as possible; solemn, statesmanlike, cruel to be kind, tough but fair – in direct contrast to the folly of the plan.

Praising Britain as a “beacon of openness and generosity”, he cited historic migration flows ranging from French Huguenots and Jewish refugees from Tsarist Russia, to a somewhat more rogue choice for a Conservative prime minister in summon – “the mooring of the Empire Windrush”. Again he spoke of Johnson’s standouts, ‘Our NHS and our welfare state’, and the ‘unmanageable demands’ placed on them by Channel crossings.

Admittedly, Rwanda as the offshore processing center of choice seemed like a bit of a draw; what was left when the random country generator had finished humming. I half wondered if the policy had been devised by rummaging through some old DVDs Rishi had left behind in apartment 11. The Grand Budapest Hotel was out – try to convince Viktor Orban to sign up there. Hotel California and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel were probably banned too, with their unfortunate echoes of green cards and no-dom status. So all that was left was Hotel Rwanda.

The random word generator hand also relied heavily on the Prime Minister’s speech. It was even more alliterative than usual, as if it had been hastily written with only one dictionary page open for reference. He promised to “identify, intercept and investigate” small boats, and boasted of his “innovative approach”. (More obvious “i” words such as “impractical”, “illogical”, “or even “foolish”, had not been retained.)

Some of the assembled journalists ridiculed the proposals with sanctimonious whippings à la Amnesty International. But the PM’s crimes were of far greater interest. Almost all of the questions focused on “partygate”, with all of the Hotel Rwanda questions belatedly added as an afterthought.

“A quick question because I’m not patient enough to wait,” ITV’s Anushka Asthana quipped. Would the Prime Minister correct the record over his breach of lockdown rules before he returns to the Commons next week? Many journalists have asked versions of this question; all were disappointed. “Anushka, forgive me, you’ll have to wait,” the prime minister replied, exuding crocodile regret.

Shortly after, in Kigali, the Rwandan capital, the Minister of the Interior held a press conference alongside Vincent Biruta, Rwandan Minister of Foreign Affairs. She looked a picture of serenity as she laid out the politics, in flawless tones of hanging and flogging – all-consuming phrases like “evil smugglers and their criminal gangs, profiting and facilitating…”

“For too long, other countries – and by the way, naysayers – have sat on their hands and watched people die,” she intoned triumphantly, savoring the words with a slightly curled lip.

Many commentators seemed keen to condemn the scheme as coming from the dead cat school of thought. “Anything to distract from these lockdown parties,” Guy Verhofstadt sneered on Twitter. Smirking Sir Keir Starmer called it “a desperate announcement from a Prime Minister who just wants to distract from his own breaking of the law”.

But perhaps the Prime Minister had hit on something by anticipating the complaints of his detractors earlier in his speech. “To those who oppose it, I say, ‘We have a plan. What is your alternative? proposed by the opposition.

Comments are closed.