THE cheers and the relief of campaigners who fought against Tuesday night's Rwanda removal flights were hard won and deserved.

While it was it was right that the inaugural flight was cancelled at the eleventh hour, thanks to intervention by the European Court of Human Rights, by then so much damage had already been done.

Those who were taken on to the aircraft spoke variously of being physically restrained, emotionally brutalised and fainting in terror at being dragged to an airfield, to be flown to a country they have no links to, no knowledge of and no desire to live in.

Is this, for them, rescue or a reprieve merely? The wait to find out must be beyond agony.

It was highly likely that this impractical, probably illegal and very definitely immoral policy from home secretary Priti Patel would be held up in the courts. Yet that would have been cold comfort to those awaiting their fates and cold comfort to asylum seekers across the UK living under the hostile immigration system the home secretary is creating.

The plan to remove asylum seekers to central Africa and pay another country to make decisions the current government is too cowardly to make is impossible to defend at every level.

It is in no way a credible attempt to resolve the issue, as the Conservatives view it, of asylum seeking. It did not even pretend to be. It was also a ferocious waste of money. So what was the point of it?

This was an exercise in performance held just in time for the Tories to try to influence voters at two forthcoming English byelections.

The Wakefield vote next week is a test of whether Labour can repair the hole in the red wall by ousting the Tories, who won a marginal seat in 2019. In Devon, Tiverton and Honiton's by-election, is a test of the Tories against the Lib Dems.

These are being seen as bellwethers of public mood and the Conservatives cannot afford to lose either. This, of course, is all Boris Johnson cares for – a continuing grip on the premiership.

This is a performance of particular cruelty, lives are affected to a truly appalling extent, yet these are lives the Conservative government does not care about, lives viewed as expendable for the greater good - the good of keeping the party in power.

Tory MPs have been led out this week to parp out lines about keeping the fundamental promises of protecting British borders and "taking back control".

"Lefty lawyers" found themselves in the governmental firing lines yet again as Tory strategy dictates common enemies must be identified to unite the party with voters.

The European Court of Human Rights is distinct from the European Union but it was enough for right wing mischief makers to allow the link to go unchallenged and therefore lead with the lie that Britain's sovereignty is still under threat by Europe.

Leading on from this, Dominic Raab said Britain will change the law in order to ignore any future rulings by the ECHR. For now, the justice secretary said, the government will adhere to the injunctions imposed by the court in Strasbourg and will not charter another Rwanda flight for a month but called them "quite wrong".

Reports yesterday also claim ministers are planning, under this new law, to allow people due for removal almost no exemption under Article 8 of the treaty, the right to private and family life. It would, a source told the Times newspaper, allow an exemption so narrow that it would let migrants remain only if a close relative was dying.

I am also a court reporter and have been covering sentencing hearings this week. Unusually, a gentleman appeared at Glasgow Sheriff Court with two lawyers, one criminal solicitor and one immigration.

The accused, who is applying for settled status in the UK, had received some terrible news about his daughter and, under stress, had a drink. The alcohol mixed badly with his medication and, concerned he was having a heart attack, his wife called an ambulance.

His lawyer explained that the man has poor eye sight, was under the influence of drink and "felt like he was drowning" and so, his solicitor claimed, he panicked and lashed out at the paramedics to try to make them leave.

He pleaded guilty and fully accepted his responsibility for what is viewed by the court as a serious charge, assaulting two medical workers in the course of their duties.

His two lawyers were present to ask for leniency from the court because his future in the UK has some dependence on the sentence imposed. He would, his immigration brief said in court, likely face deportation. The solicitor spoke of the home secretary's increasing fervour for a hostile environment and, with the sheriff pointing out the court is non-political, said he had talked to a Home Office staff member recently who said deportations and removals are about to "go full throttle".

This man is in a different situation from those under threat of removal to Rwanda but the fear is the same. A British national in this man's situation – a professional, no analogous convictions, contributing to society – could expect a community disposal. Some unpaid work, a restriction of liberty order, supervision.

He might also lose the life he knows and has built. Sentencing was deferred to allow the sheriff to consider submissions and what an agonising wait for that man.

While his situation is very different from the asylum seekers awaiting news of removal to Rwanda, the agony of insecurity and uncertainty is the same and comes from the same hostile government policy. This policy allows for two tiers of existence where some may err and be flawed – be human – while others must be a paragon of all qualities or face double, dreadful punishment.

With the rot at the heart of Westminster decomposing still further. Christopher Geidt, the government’s independent adviser on ministers’ interests, has now resigned after just 14 months in post. The advisor before him, Sir Alex Allan, resigned in November 2020. This disturbing unprecedented situation has occurred because the prime minister wanted to override the ministerial code.

The current Westminster government does not think the rules are for them. They do not think fairness or compassion or respecting rules are for them. In fact, all the great British values the Conservative party professes to be motivated to protect are insubstantial nothing.

On announcing his resignation on Wednesday night Lord Geidt said the prime minister had put him in an "impossible and odious position." The country entire is in an impossible and odious position.