With the generosity we have come to associate with her, Home Secretary Suella yet again gave a junior colleague the opportunity to shine.
Into the spotlight, she sent her Immigration minister Robert Jenrick to answer an Urgent Question from Diana Johnson, of the Home Affairs select committee on a migrant reception centre in Kent.
It’s the sort of Question at which the Home Secretary excels.
Apparently, conditions are terrible, families are sleeping on camp beds, they only have doctors, there are no hospital facilities for 3,000 inmates with some held for 32 days rather than the 24-hour maximum, in conditions of fire hazard, infection hazard, every sort of incidental hazard…
“Moan, moan, moan,” Suella would have said. “What are they complaining about? Dry beds, a roof, they’re not living in French packing cases or eating dogs in Italy. Have you seen what the Greeks make them do before they give them a kebab? That’s what disgusting is. I’m not having it. We could have sent them to Scotland, and did we? We’re not evil people, no we did not, have not, will not because migrants would rather live in a rotten, sodden centre in Kent than a five-bed house in the Scottish Lowlands. ********.”
She wasn’t there, she couldn’t say it, but in her absence Christopher Chope made her point more succinctly, and perhaps more elegantly.
Tim Laughton pointed out that 28,000 migrants had come across the channel last year and that only 4% had had their claims processed almost a year later. No one was surprised.
The Home Office is a machine that employs thousands, spends billions, fails at everything it attempts and consumes its ministers. Look at Theresa May, eaten away from the inside. When he was Home Secretary John Reid told the select committee nearly 20 years ago that the department wasn’t “fit for purpose” and things have only got worse. If Suella’s lucky – and she seems like a lucky person – she will be traduced early, briefed against, leaked against and released for bad behaviour. Possibly in time for the pre-Christmas sales.