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  Opinion   Columnists  16 Dec 2023  Farrukh Dhondy | Sunak lives on the edge: Will he take the UK into icy waters?

Farrukh Dhondy | Sunak lives on the edge: Will he take the UK into icy waters?

In his words: "I am just a professional writer, which means I don't do blogs and try and get money for whatever I write."
Published : Dec 16, 2023, 12:32 am IST
Updated : Dec 16, 2023, 12:32 am IST

What the country witnessed on Tuesday was the circus that this Tory government has deteriorated into

Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. (AP)
 Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. (AP)

“O Bachchoo there is no destiny
No man’s preordained fate
Creatures of the best-in-me
If we don’t leave it too late
If life was mapped for all of us
And there was no free will
There would be no conscience or fuss
And no heavenly grill”

From Daastaan Ka Duster, by Bachchoo

Gentle reader, I must confess that I have at times in my short and happy life indulged in writing screenplays, stage plays, television and the like, and beg to be forgiven for it. The forms, though, become obsessive. What I mean is that certain stories I need to tell take on in my feeble imagination compulsive shapes. This week’s political happenings in the UK -- with which this column has often been concerned -- is one.

So here goes:

INT: DAY: NO. 10 DOWNING STREET DINING ROOM
7.30 am on Tuesday 12 Dec 2023

Downing Street flunkies welcome several right-wing members of the Tory Party into the dining room of the Prime Minister’s residence.

They stand around the table looking distinctly disgruntled. They chat to each other and no one takes a seat, even though they are urged by flunkeys to do so.

Enter Hedgie Sunoch. Big smiles as he offers hearty handshakes to his “guests”; only one or two grasp his hand… the rest turn away.

As Hedgie gestures for them to be seated, they reluctantly do and coffee and tea are served.

As Hedgie begins to address the gathering, the waiters discreetly place trays of the breakfast on the table.

HEDGIE: My dear loyal parliamentary colleagues. This bill I am proposing for you to vote on this afternoon in Parliament will appeal to all the bigoted racist public of Britain. Of course, there will be the wets and the humanity wallas and the fools who don’t agree with us that Britain is still an imperial power and the rest of the world are losers… but they don’t matter, like the traitors who vote Labour. I would even like to later expand this proposed bill to send all of them to Rwanda.

CHEERS AND TABLE-BANGING FROM THE BREAKFAST GUESTS

HEDGIE: So you patriots will vote for my bill this evening.

THE GUESTS NOW TURN TO BREAKFAST.
IT’S BACON ROLLS ALL ROUND. ALL THE GUESTS -- OR VERY MANY OF THEM ARE MUSLIMS OR JEWISH. THEY LOOK AT THE BACON ROLLS AND PICK THEM UP AND FLING THEM AT HEDGIE. (They shout)
JEWISH AND MUSLIM GUEST MPs: How dare you insult us in this way. We will kill the bill! Kill the bill… Kill the bill!
EXIT MPs FROM THE DINING ROOM AND OUT OF THE FRONT DOOR OF 10 DOWNING STREET, WHERE THEIR CRIES ARE QUICKLY PICKED UP BY THE WAITING CAMERA CREWS AND NEWSHOUNDS

SCENE 2

INT: THAT AFTERNOON. WESTMINSTER PARLIAMENT
The vote is proposed by the deputy speaker. The MPs go to the lobby and the tellers return.

The bill is defeated, Hedgie Sunoch is in trouble as the rebels call for a vote of no-confidence, which follows and Sunoch becomes Soongone….

THE END

The above is, gentle reader, my fantasy. The truth is there was that Tuesday breakfast meeting with potential opponents to Hedgie’s bill which proposes to send asylum-seekers, who arrive illegally on boats, to Rwanda. Yes, bacon rolls were served. There were no Jews or Muslims in that right-wing Conservative faction, so no one protested about the bacon rolls! The breakfast group munching the proffered porkies went away and decided to abstain at the crucial vote and so saved Hedgie’s bacon. My preferred headline on Wednesday would have been “BACON SAVES BACON”.

But, gentle reader, that would only be for Wednesday. What the country witnessed on Tuesday was the circus that this Tory government has deteriorated into. Julius Sunak must be aware that the Ides of March are not far off.

The revolt against the Hedgie bill began when one Robert Jenrick, the immigration minister in his Cabinet, resigned saying that the bill was unworkable as it would not stop the proposed deportees from lodging legal cases. Two factions in the party wanted Parliament to find a way to circumvent the international and even the British courts. One of these proposed that the government pass laws which freed it from any obligation to international laws and conventions on human rights. A faction of the party to the left of Hedgie (huge space there!) expressed their hesitancy about breaking with international law -- not, I might add, because they were drowning in the milk of human kindness, but because they were sharp enough to see that such a move would bring international sanctions down on the UK, notably from the European Union, which would withdraw cooperation on the shared scientific projects and on ways to find peace in Northern Ireland.

The Labour Party said the bill was unworkable and already nearly £300 million had been sent to Rwanda and not one poor soul.

Then there are the ambitious who want Hedgie out and themselves in. They can’t say this out loud, but will disagree on matters of policy and rely on factionalism within the circus to bring Hedgie down. It is his prerogative as PM to choose, before January 2025, the date of the next general election.

He now certainly knows that the selection of such a date will be akin to navigating the Titanic into icy waters.

Tags: rishi sunak, tory party, 10 downing street