Marina Hyde casts a cynical eye over Londongrad.
"My eyes have seen the glory, I'm a born again Atheist!"
There was far too much chance of us taking the wrong kind of refugee. People who could have been better accommodated by other European countries. Criminals with fixed penalty notices for breaking lockdown rules. Russians masquerading as Ukrainians. Or “the” Ukrainians. Patel insisted on calling Ukraine “the Ukraine”.
It was all very confusing. Patel was adamant that the visa requirements were being made more generous, only for her to contradict herself by saying that the new rules would only let in people with immediate family in the UK. She didn’t sound at all pleased to be allowing up to 100,000 of the Ukrainians into the country. Not even the thought that other European countries were taking in significantly more people could cheer her up.
The shadow home secretary, Yvette Cooper, tried to make sense of the muddle. So were we making it easier for refugees to get into the UK or not, she asked. Because it wasn’t at all clear from what Patel had said so far. Vacant looked vacant and did what she always does when she’s on the back foot. She snapped and got angry. She had said all that needed to be said, and if no one had quite understood everything then it was their fault. She couldn’t be blamed if no one could quite keep up with her.
Take George Galloway – please – who’d like you to know he was right again. As he puts it: “Me Farage Hitchens Carlson and Rod Liddle are a pretty broad front of people who think Nato expansion to the borders of #Russia was a pretty bad idea. Maybe pause and think about that?”
I know what he means. Me and the three Spider-Men I‘m pointing at are a pretty broad front too. We actually bonded when we divorced our MJs and they turned the Spideykids against us.
Meanwhile, Farage himself has performed a 180-degree pivot to demanding things like: “Why is Biden not in Europe taking the lead?”, which is a fairly selective form of rectitude for a man who spent years praising the way Putin operated. Poignantly, Nigel’s obsession with wars never quite runs to understanding which side he’d have been on in them. His ability to form alliances with far-right German parties at the same time as twatting on about Winston Churchill, for instance, indicates a truly remarkable flexibility.
I’m sure Nigel’s bitterest regret is that he’s not quite flexible and sprightly enough to rock up at the Ukrainian embassy and offer to fight, as some British guys are now doing. I know you have to say “I admire the bravery”. But reading about one man with no military experience who hadn’t even told his family he was off to Ukraine – he has children – we might instead point to the defence secretary’s caution against this kind of action.
And step forward Ukrainian journalist Daria Kaleniuk, the executive director of the Anti-Corruption Action Centre, whose two and a half minute intervention was less a question and more a howl of pain. People were dying, friends were terrified, she said.
The reason Johnson was in Warsaw was because it was safe. There was no way he or any of his family would set foot in Kyiv but the people of Ukraine had no choice. They had been left to fight the Russians single-handedly while western leaders did little more than offer expressions of solidarity.
Boris might have been enjoying the opportunity to do his Churchill tribute act on a world stage – at the very least it was a distraction from his troubles at home – but for all his muscular rhetoric, the expressions of solidarity and calling out of Putin’s war crimes, he was essentially operating with two arms tied behind his back.
By the time that sanctions really hit, Kyiv could be rubble. The bottom line was that, stripped of his front and grandiosity, The Suspect is as much an onlooker to The Horror as the rest of us.
It was way beyond Vacant’s intellectual pay grade to come up with any answers so she did what she always does when she feels challenged.
She got stroppy and picked fights with whoever she could. She had a go at Cooper for not being supportive enough and then at the SNP for being a security risk who couldn’t be trusted with sensitive information. This from a minister who was sacked for moonlighting with her own foreign policy agenda.
“The British government is the first government to outline practical measures for bringing Ukrainian refugees to the UK,” she said. To everyone’s surprise. It would be a turn up if the Poles had determined UK refugee policy.
Though not Edward Leigh. He wondered if we had done far too much already and thought his constituents had had enough of Ukraine. So sweet. Patel breathed a sigh of recognition. At last. She was back among her people once more.
Back came the bluster and the shiftiness. The tugging on his Toddlers ’R Us haircut. The childish outbursts of narcissistic rage that he can’t control when challenged. Anything that is not on his terms cannot be tolerated. Come the end of PMQs the new, not entirely convincing, statesmanlike Boris was beginning to look very much like the old, self-centred Boris.
If the Suspect wanted to prove many people’s suspicions that the Tory party is in hock to Russian money, he couldn’t have made a better job of it. At the very least he made it look as if he wasn’t that bothered about London’s status as the world’s laundromat. Or about the extent of Russian influence in British politics.
This was a point Labour’s Bill Esterson made when he invited Johnson to donate the £2m the Tories had received from Lubov Chernukhin, the wife of Russia’s former deputy minister of finance, to the Ukrainian war effort. Just to clear the air and to show that the Conservatives had nothing to hide. Now Boris lost his temper.
Meanwhile, in the gallery, Prystaiko was anxiously checking his phone. Watching British politicians trade words had a limited appeal when his countrymen were fighting for Ukraine street by street.
This was a point Labour’s Bill Esterson made when he invited Johnson to donate the £2m the Tories had received from Lubov Chernukhin, the wife of Russia’s former deputy minister of finance, to the Ukrainian war effort. Just to clear the air and to show that the Conservatives had nothing to hide. Now Boris lost his temper.And what a racket his backbenchers raised as soon as Russian money was mentioned.
The Ukrainians voted for a comedian and got a leader. A man with an unerring moral compass. We in the UK also voted for a comedian and got exactly that. Except his act had long since stopped being funny. It never occurred to us that the world was going to get this serious. First Covid. Then this.Onto Williamson:
We only signed Johnson for the good times and it’s far too late for buyers’ remorse.
Williamson was the worst minister, a close-run thing with Chris Grayling, of his generation. Useless at defence – he told the Russians “to shut up and go away”: that worked – and a disaster at education.Not much more need be said there. Onto Damian Hinds:
Hinds did have the lost cause of trying to explain the government’s sanctions programme. It was like this. We were definitely a global leader in imposing the toughest penalties, which is why it made sense for us to be always a bit behind everyone else.Still got room for some more? Step up, Liz Truss:
In any case, it wasn’t a competition, he went on. And if we were to tell everyone what we were going to do before we did it then they would find ways to get round them. The BBC’s Simon Jack couldn’t believe his ears. He was dealing with a halfwit.
“Sanc-shuns are wor-king. Un-i-ted with U-kraine,” she said over and over again in that slightly robotic voice that suggests there is even less going on in her brain than first appears.And finish off with a dose of Dorries:
Tories had flooded the all-party parliamentary group on Russia in an effort to get Bryant removed as the committee’s chair due to his hostility to Russia. Neither Vlad nor the Tories had found it useful for parliamentarians to be making life difficult for Russian kleptocrats. But that was then, and this was now. Everyone’s a democrat. Even Nad. What’s a war good for, if not a bit of revisionism?
How hard can NOT honouring the worst secretary of state in recent memory really be? It is suspiciously unclear what the man sacked as both defence and education secretary is being honoured for. Services to making Russia go away and shut up? Leaking from a top-level National Security Council meeting and consequently undermining the trust of the intelligence services (denied)? Presiding over an epochal failure of British children, from which significant numbers will never recover educationally or in terms of life chances?
The Johnson administration doesn’t do immutable principles. They only do expedience. In fact, it’s occasionally hard not to see in Dorries a watered-down version of higher skilled monsters such as Russia’s foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, who yesterday claimed the BBC was being used to undermine Russia’s internal politics and security. She should speak to Nadine. I keep hearing from her and half the rest of the cabinet that the BBC undermines the UK’s internal politics. I can never remember exactly why – I think it’s something to do with talent salaries or running stories about the government that they don’t like.
Tomorrow Chelsea will host Newcastle, who are now owned by a group led by the sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia – but remember, those guys are the good autocrats, because they buy our weapons. And use them in a war in Yemen that has thus far gone on for seven years, killing or starving hundreds of thousands, the vast majority believed to be children under five. But of course, the sovereign wealth fund isn’t the same as the Riyadh government. They just have a good relationship with it, same as Roman Abramovich just has a good relationship with Putin. “Which owner knows the guy who’s killed more babies?” is a question you won’t be seeing on any banners at Chelsea-Newcastle.https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/ ... k-refugees
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