THERE must have been stormy scenes at the Home Office this week when Priti Patel saw the headlines about her team meetings.

The blue-sky thinking of her minions was meant to generate workable ideas for stopping asylum seekers crossing the Channel, but instead it’s made everyone involved look silly, mad, evil or some combination of the three.

Ideas reportedly floated during brainstorming sessions included processing centres on oil rigs, blockades made from chains of boats, and the use of wave machines to toss overloaded dinghies back into French waters.

It might seem ironic that discussions of these maritime matters should result in quite so many leaks, but the Westminster whisperers say it’s no coincidence. Instead they say it’s part of a co-ordinated scheme to undermine Boris Johnson’s leadership and have him replaced by someone who can string sentences together and understand his own rules.

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So might there be a mole on the inside, throwing out wild ideas so that it can truthfully be claimed they were discussed in top-level meetings? What a fun brief. It’s not unlike one of those Big Brother challenges where a housemate had to behave in ways that seemed a bit strange, but not strange enough that the others would twig they were doing a challenge, in order to win the house a bumper food budget.

One wonders what sort of ideas were ruled too zany to bring up, given “push them back using artificial waves” made the cut. A fence of electric eels? A pool of piranhas at landing points? A team of dolphins trained to nudge the boats back to Calais?

When asked about the wave machine idea, a Downing Street spokesman told The Sun: “There are various things I really don’t recognise,” which is just a wonderful multi-purpose statement, isn’t it? I’m going to deploy it the next time the dentist asks if I’ve been eating a lot of sweets while working from home. It could have been Jeremy Corbyn’s response to questions about why he flouted the rule of six at a dinner party. Admit nothing, sow doubt, keep it vague, carry on.

The wave idea was reportedly dismissed on the grounds that it would actually kill people, as opposed to simply allowing them to die, but it’s unclear whether a nautical version of infamous playground game British Bulldog is still under consideration. The branding certainly works, and it could have a neat Hunger Games-style twist if the pluckiest of those seeking sanctuary were still able to reach UK shores.

Reaching the shore and landing on the shore might be two different matters though (even without the piranha pools), and “offshoring” is not a fantastical idea, as other countries do it. But someone had to go and spoil it all by suggesting those seeking asylum in the UK could be sent nearly 4500 miles away to the British territory of Ascension Island.

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That location had reportedly been “explored” and ruled out by the time we got wind of the suggestion, and some at the Home Office believe this leak was designed to undermine the whole concept of offshoring, which Dominic Cummings – I mean, Boris Johnson – is apparently keen to pursue.

But if that was the mole’s plan, it has backfired quite spectacularly. A snap YouGov poll found that 40% of the British public thought the rejection Ascension Island plan was a good idea while only 35% ruled it a bad one.

So was the mole actually acting on the instructions of Cummings, suggesting ideas that could be dismissed as blue-sky thinking if the public found them abhorrent, and progressed if they found favour? Perhaps the mole thought he or she was undermining Number 10 but had in fact been manipulated into doing the exact opposite.

Who would have predicted that the response to “get a load of this crazy idea!” would be “sounds great – when can it start?”

There are lessons here, surely, for the UK Government in its dealings with the EU. If the British public will accept just about any proposed solution to an apparently intractable problem, regardless of practicality, ethics or cost, why not apply some of the same principles?

If the EU insists on sending letters threatening to the take the UK to the European Court of Justice for breaching the Withdrawal Agreement, why not simply set up a giant wind machine atop the cliffs of Dover and blow them right back to Brussels?

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If we’re worried about lorry queues following a No-Deal Brexit, why not simply convert Ascension Island into an 88km square car park and divert them there?

The public are surely bound to approve of these “out of sight, out of mind” solutions. A simple solution to the tricky problem of Northern Ireland is perhaps a chain of jaunty boats positioned in the Irish Sea bearing “Give peace a chance” banners. That should ensure the Troubles are not restarted.

It might seem like I am mocking these ideas, but that’s probably what the mole thought they were doing too, when throwing theirs out at Home Office meetings and/or telling the papers what had been suggested. Perhaps Cummings has got to me too, and I’m unwittingly laying the groundwork for the next phase of the UK’s Brexit “negotiations”.

Yes, it all seems far-fetched now, but recent events have taught us to just wait and see. I’m away to commission a YouGov poll...