OPINION - Priti Patel doubles down on Rwanda plan

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 (West End Final)
(West End Final)

In the week that £100,000 worth of counterfeit goods, including Wonka chocolate bars, were seized by trading standards staff following raids on American candy stores on Oxford Street, Priti Patel came to Parliament and delivered her best Gene Wilder “Stop. Don’t. Come back“ impression.

I’m sure the Home Secretary is crestfallen that we’re all talking about the action, thwarted though it may be, she is taking to combat Channel crossings, how a court with the word ‘European’ in its name has something to do with it, and that Keir Starmer must now to comment on the policy but seemingly can’t come down on either side. (See, as ever, Deputy Political Editor David Bond’s must-read PMQs analysis).

Now, picking your own wedge issues or dividing lines is a major benefit of being in Government. You make the political weather by promoting broadly popular issues that unite your side and divide the opposition. But at some stage, in a country with free and fair elections, you have to do something to improve people’s lot.

And looking down at today’s news stories, we’ve got half of Britain’s rail lines on strike next week, real-terms pay falling at its fastest rate in over a decade, pending interest rate rises, soaring fuel costs, cancelled flights and the EU taking legal action over the Northern Ireland Protocol.

It is not immediately obvious what the Government is doing to fix these things and in some cases, what it can do. While with the Protocol, it is actively making things worse.

As former SDLP leader and Nobel Laureate John Hume once said, recalling a piece of advice from his father, “You can’t eat a flag.” To which I would only add “or chocolate from Oxford Street.”

Elsewhere in the paper, oh boy, a new study from Imperial College London suggests that catching the Omicron variant provides little protection against getting it again. This could in part explain why cases are rising once more, driven by an increase in newer Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5.

In the comment pages, Defence Editor Robert Fox warns that the Russians are advancing slowly, steadily and brutally in eastern Ukraine, as the Western alliance threatens to waver.

While Paul Flynn says we all know outing is cruel. By standing up to it, Rebel Wilson has put another nail in its coffin.

And finally, from portable chargers to pints and ponchos, Features Editor Phoebe Luckhurst brings you the ultimate guide to surviving (and thriving) at Glastonbury.

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