THE Home Office's plans to ship asylum seekers to Rwanda is shocking in its cruelty, its cynicism and its deceit. It is both a blatant attempt by a law-breaking Prime Minister to distract attention from his criminality, and a means for Johnson to pander to the right wing of the Conservative Party in an effort to save his political skin.

The news comes as Johnson the law-breaker receives a second fine for breaking the law during lockdown and the spineless Douglas Ross hypocritically claims that the Conservatives are the "only party in Scotland prepared to be tough on crime," just as long as the crime doesn't happen in Downing Street that is.

This is the "world-beating" UK that Scotland was promised it could be a part of in 2014. It is world-beating in its callous disregard for desperate people fleeing dictatorships and conflict zones, a global leader in turning its back on the plight of some of the poorest and most desperate people in the world and using them as props in the Conservative leadership's tawdry careerism.

READ MORE: Rwanda immigration plan is partygate smokescreen

Johnson and Patel have done a deal with the corrupt authoritarian government of the Rwandan dictator Paul Kagame, who has "won" three presidential elections, all of which have been characterised by fraud, voter intimidation, and the suppression, disappearances, and deaths in unexplained circumstances of his opponents. Throughout his tenure, Kagame has been linked to the murders and disappearances of his political opponents, both in Rwanda and abroad.

Amnesty International describes the human rights situation in Rwanda as being characterised by violations of the rights to a fair trial, serious restrictions on freedom of expression and privacy, alongside enforced disappearances of opposition figures and numerous allegations of torture and the excessive use of force by the authorities.

Yet the British Government thinks that this is a country which is a safe place to send asylum seekers who may be fleeing political repression and torture in their own countries. Sending desperate people seeking sanctuary in the UK to Rwanda and telling them that they can apply for asylum in an oppressive authoritarian regime which has shown that it has no respect for democracy, human rights or the rule of law takes the Conservatives' desire to pander to the basest instincts of the Daily Mail and The Express to new lows of depravity.

The UK is not the first country to seek to outsource its refugees to Rwanda. Israel also attempted to send Eritrean and Sudanese asylum seekers to Rwanda but that policy was abandoned after provoking international and domestic outrage. A study by German academics found that refugees sent to Rwanda were not given an opportunity to apply for asylum. Instead, they were forced to pay people smugglers to get them to safety elsewhere. There is absolutely no reason to believe that the UK's policy will be any different.

A study of Australia's policy of sending refugees to detention centres in Papua New Guinea and Nauru found that the policy did nothing to deter people from making dangerous journeys in overcrowded and unsuitable boats. Neither did it do anything to disrupt the business of the people smugglers. Instead, it created an enormous financial cost for Australian taxpayers, provoked numerous multiple legal challenges and led to "systemic cruelty" with people consigned to the detention centres taking their own lives and self-harming.

READ MORE: Rwanda refugee plans will end Channel crossings, PM hopes

The British Government's own data shows that, despite the right-wing claims that those attempting to cross the Channel are economic migrants, most of those making the dangerous crossing are fleeing countries where persecution and oppression are commonplace. Around two-thirds who reach the UK by this route are eventually granted refugee status or protection in the UK.

As the UK is under pressure to open its doors to those fleeing the war in Ukraine, those who are fleeing war and oppression outwith a white European country are to be sent to Rwanda and forgotten about. It's hard not to conclude that this stark difference in treatment is based in the racism that lies at the heart of the Conservative party.

As First Minister Nicola Sturgeon pointed out, announcing this despicable policy in an attempt to distract attention from Johnson and Sunak's law-breaking lays bare the moral bankruptcy of the British Government and the Conservative party.

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