THE news that Suella Braverman was off to Rwanda to ratify her new (illegal) Illegal Immigration Bill “accompanied by media representatives from GB News, the Daily Mail, the Express and The Telegraph. The BBC, The Independent, The Guardian and the Daily Mirror were not invited to attend” is quietly terrifying.

Let’s not give undue credit to the saner liberal ends of the media spectrum here, but the closeness and the tightness between the Home Secretary and the faraway-right press is alarming.

On this issue, the extremes of policy and media coverage are converging.

The proposed law aims to allow the government to detain and deport asylum seekers who arrive by small boat without considering their claims, in what the UN Refugee Agency labelled an “asylum ban”.

Braverman told MPs last week: “Our partnership with Rwanda is uncapped. We stand ready to operationalise it at scale as soon as is legally practicable.”

That’s code for “this is all illegal”.

In a sense that has some symmetry, GB News will be off to Rwanda with Braverman, a “news channel” operating outwith the rules laid down by Ofcom (as exposed by John Nicholson last week) covering immigration policy facing European Court of Human Rights injunctions.

The policy is so extreme, and the Government so callous that an attempted flight last June saw asylum seekers forcibly carried onto a plane and restrained, with some self-harming and threatening to kill themselves.

Last week, the Government’s Illegal Migration Bill passed the first parliamentary hurdle, with MPs approving the legislation by 312 to 250 – a majority of 62. But a number of MPs raised concerns over children being forced into detention centres and the removal of support from women seeking safe refuge.

In a blistering intervention in the Commons, the ex-PM Theresa May (yes her of the “Hostile Environment”) raised serious concerns with the legislation.

Speaking in the Commons on Tuesday, the former PM Theresa May also raised issues with the controversial legislation – before actually abstaining at the vote.

“Anybody who thinks that this Bill will deal with the issue of illegal migration once and for all is wrong,” she insisted.

May also warned modern slavery victims will be “collateral damage”, adding: “The Home Office knows this Bill means genuine victims of modern slavery will be denied support”.

So far so hypocritical.

Nimco Ali, who was an independent adviser to the Home Office on tackling violence against women and girls, has suggested the Home Secretary should consider her position.

She hit out at Braverman’s “dangerous” language and branded her immigration policies as “cruel and heartless”.

Highlighting the stark hypocrisy of the Ukrainian “safe homes” programme, she also called for more safe asylum routes similar to the programme introduced for Ukrainians fleeing Russia’s invasion.

She added: “As a former refugee of colour, if we can provide generous help to Ukrainians escaping war then I think we need to look at ensuring that we also provide routes to anyone escaping conflicts.

“If we can find room for a white child but not a black child, who are coming here in similar circumstances, it is racist. It is really painful if we believe that people can seek refuge if they come from Europe but not elsewhere.”

All of this will be familiar to anyone who has watched the British state over the past few years, certainly since Theresa May’s government, but accelerated and taking new forms under Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak.

Ali is of course quite right to point out the weird disjuncture between the UK Government’s approach to Ukrainians fleeing war – open arms and open homes – and the approach to other – how shall we say it? – less white people also fleeing war, famine, torture and persecution.

The difference is stark and sickening even if, as I understand it, much of the Ukrainian scheme has been performative and dysfunctional.

THE second thing to say is that the Conservative Party have always been deeply racist and reactionary, they have always had a fringe that collaborated with and had common cause with the far-right. This can be seen under Norman Tebbit in particular but also by a fleet of Margaret Thatcher’s newer policies and police tactics.

In January 1978, Thatcher, then leader of the opposition, gave what became one of her most quoted TV interviews.

“People,” she told ITV’s World in Action. “Are really rather afraid that this country might be swamped by people with a different culture.”

As Daniel Trilling, author of Bloody Nasty People: The Rise Of Britain’s Far Right has written: “Thatcher’s 1978 intervention did not mark a change in policy – the Conservatives had taken a hard line on immigration since she became leader in 1975 – but it had an immediate short-term effect on public opinion.

“After her comments, a survey by National Opinion Polls recorded a dramatic surge in support for the Tories, who jumped to an 11-point lead over Labour, who they had previously been trailing by two points.

“A year later, the Tories won the general election, while the National Front, which had stood a record number of candidates, failed to win a single seat and collapsed amid bitter recriminations.”

As Trilling concludes: “Thatcher’s ‘swamping’ comments marked something far more significant: with them, she was reintroducing a racist discourse to mainstream politics that had been confined to the far-right fringe for a decade.”

Here is the Rwandan origin story.

Thatcher brought Enoch Powell’s ideas back into the heart of Conservative politics.

Powell’s own politics had undergone a shift – from the rhetoric of racial superiority that had justified the British Empire’s subjugation of the world, to one of cultural difference and paranoia.

At one point, we were justified by way of our racial superiority, in the next instant we were to be fearful that we would become “ a minority in our own land” – where “the whip hand”, as Powell put it, would be held by the immigrant.

This is the long tail of Braverman’s deeply racist outlook, part of a wider English nationalist project that grasps the narrative of imperial decline (“postcolonial melancholia”) – and turns it round, promising voters that she (both Thatcher and Braverman) would make Britain “great” again.

When Stephen Flynn asked last week if the Conservatives’ policies were inspired by “Nigel Farage or Enoch Powell”, here is your answer: They are inspired by Powell through Thatcher.