A FRIEND recently introduced me to the concept of Whamageddon – the aim is to get through the whole of Advent without hearing a single recognisable snippet of the festive classic Last Christmas. I crashed out within weeks, but on the plus side, it really is a great tune. Would Christmas be the same without it?

The UK Government is playing its own game – one with very high stakes – when it comes to its asylum policy, but curiously enough, its success also depends on what people happen to hear.

Yesterday’s headlines announced that the High Court had ruled its policy of deporting some asylum seekers to Rwanda was lawful, following a challenge by charities and campaigners. Bad news, you might think, for those who profit from smuggling desperate people into the UK by sending small boats across the Channel.

But is it? It’s not as though they will have to reprint their glossy brochures or update the terms and conditions on their websites. That is not how any of this works. Does anyone actually believe that ruthless people, or the desperate people they exploit, are likely to be significantly influenced by the particular act of villainy-signalling that is the UK Government’s Rwanda policy?

Set aside, for a moment, how you feel about the ethics of the scheme – pioneered by Priti Patel and now carried forward with even more diabolical zeal by Suella Braverman – and also the safety of Rwanda as a destination (a matter which the court was not required to specifically consider).

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The Tories argue that those who oppose their plan have no better answers to the problem of people entering the UK by “irregular” routes, conveniently ignoring those who have been calling for safe and legal asylum routes until they’re blue in the face, but let’s also set aside the possible impact of alternative approaches and instead consider whether the Rwanda policy is likely to achieve what they claim.

The logic behind it is that the threat of deportation to Rwanda will act as a deterrent to those considering making the Channel crossing, thereby reducing demand and putting the smugglers out of business.

The UK Government is essentially trying to make two arguments simultaneously: the first, that people who are willing to risk death by drowning to get the UK will baulk at the idea of doing so if there’s a chance that they may end up in Rwanda, and the second that deporting people to Rwanda is a humane course of action that upholds human rights and has net benefits for everyone except the people smugglers.

The first part is, of course, entirely dependent on individuals believing there is a significant risk they will be deported to Rwanda, despite the fact that not a single Home Office flight has taken place since the agreement was signed.

Braverman may dream of that moment arriving, but I once dreamed I rode a pony through the Blue Mountains with Dolly Parton – I wouldn’t recommend anyone making major life decisions on the basis of that becoming a reality, much as I earnestly hope it will. Adding to the UK Government’s woes, the airline that tried to transport the first batch of deportees in June has since pulled out of participating in the scheme.

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Yes, it’s possible that news of the High Court ruling will reach the ears of people directly impacted, but if they read beyond the headlines they will note that an appeals process will now begin and the case is expected to end up in the Supreme Court. None of this will happen quickly.

Those paying attention to global affairs may also have got wind of the fact that the UK is in complete crisis, the government lacks any sort of moral authority and it is likely to be rejected by the voting public before Patel has time to retrain as a pilot and crowdfund a plane.

UK Labour’s immigration policy may be a disaster – apparently premised on the need to win votes from people who would literally rather die than be revived by a foreigner – but they aren’t quite so unscrupulous as to back the Rwanda policy, which Yvette Cooper rightly describes as unworkable, unethical and extremely expensive. Either that or they don’t think there are votes in it, which is also likely true.

Rishi Sunak apparently expects us to believe the shameless lie that the “vast majority of the British public” supports his policy despite polling evidence to the contrary.

Yet he seems to think desperate asylum seekers will carry out extensive independent research into the false claims of those who seek to profit from their misfortune, conduct a full risk assessment and decide to be deterred from coming to the UK on the basis that his government might still be in power by the time all of the courts might determine the Rwanda policy is lawful, that it might manage to find an unscrupulous charter flights provider to put its policy into practice and that they might be among those selected to board one for Africa.

It’s just not plausible. The Tories can spin yesterday’s ruling as a big win all they like, but the only people who will be deterred by the fatally flawed Rwanda policy are voters.