IT'S discombobulating to hear Nigel Farage talking common sense but a stopped clock and all that, eh?

Radio 4 yesterday was interviewing politicians and Mr Farage about the Westminster government's new plans to send asylum seekers for offshore processing in Rwanda.

On The World At One, the right wing former radio presenter expressed concerns that human rights abuses are common in such set ups. "It's not very long before you start to hear tales of abuse," he said, adding, perturbed, that the Human Rights Act could then be invoked and the whole scheme would fall apart.

One might agree with the sentence but not the sentiment. It sounded rather like Mr Farage was concerned with the flaws in the plan, rather than the human cost of packing already traumatised people more than 4000 miles from where they thought they might find safety.

Unfortunate that it comes as the government is pledging net zero plans. Won't somebody think of the air miles. I'm assuming they're planning to fly folk, of course, unless the scheme involves finishing the sealing of the Trans-Sahara highway.

In which case, at least we're getting some new roads out of it. Johnson likes a tricksy infrastructure problem, after all. Just look at his record on bridges.

When Nigel Farage thinks the Tories have overreached it's perhaps the surest sign they've cocked up on a grand scale.

The much maligned Nationality and Borders Bill makes provision for the indefinite detention offshore of people attempting to reach the UK, despite attempts from MPs to pass amendments against such provisions.

Returning to the Commons next week, after being defeated twice by the Lords, the bill would criminalise those travelling to the UK with a penalty of imprisonment of up to four years.

One needs only look at Australia's extensive history of offshore processing, most recently the human rights abuses during the Pacific Solution facilities at Nauru and Manus Island, to see the extreme pitfalls.

Over the past two years various locations for a UK version of this scheme have been mooted, including St Helena, the South Atlantic island where Napoleon saw out his exile.

Yesterday the Home Secretary signed a deal with Rwanda that will see single men and women who arrive in the UK without authorisation considered for relocation to Africa.

Once on a plane they will become the responsibility of the Rwandan government and, on arrival in the east African country, they become subject to its immigration laws.

Costs of the scheme are being kept vague. The UK government has pledged an initial £120 million to Rwanda but will have to pay for healthcare, case workers, legal advice, translators, food and accommodation for each person with estimates suggesting the scheme will run to several billion pounds.

For context, the University of New South Wales found the Australian offshore system cost around £4.3 billion from 2013 to 2021.

It is sure to be a boon for private companies, the owners and shareholders of which will be the only ones to benefit from this scheme.

Rwanda, with its deeply troubling human rights record, has previously come under criticism for its treatment of refugees during a similar scheme with Israel.

Some 4000 people were estimated to have been sent from Israel to Rwanda and Uganda when the scheme operated from 2014 to 2017, despite Rwanda officially denying involvement.

Many of those who were deported to east Africa are believed to have left immediately, using people-smuggling routes to head to Europe.

It is almost certain that the relocation plans will face legal challenge if or when they come into operation with lawyers saying the set up breaches several articles of the refugee convention.

Discrimination is also a potential route for legal challenge if the UK is seen to be welcoming towards Ukrainian refugees but rejects other nationalities.

The Rwandan plan will see people placed in hostels while they wait the outcome of their asylum applications.

The impact of placing asylum seekers in detention-like surroundings is no mystery. This week a Home Office report, written in response to the 2020 Park Inn stabbings and publicised by the BBC, detailed that reports of suicide and self harm rose by more than 250 per cent when covid-19 restrictions saw asylum seekers moved into hotels.

This scheme is designed to inflict misery far from scrutiny. The government hopes an out of sight, out of mind approach will work, scooping people up and shipping them off.

Instead, the UK should be investing in overseas aid in countries from where people are fleeing, helping people to remain in situ. The government should invest in fair asylum processing here and devolve the asylum process to local authorities to manage at a community level.

The plan is unethical, unworkable and, most importantly for the Tory's voter base, unaffordable. The UK will be pouring untold amounts of money into this ludicrous scheme while citizens in this country are unable to afford their gas and electricity bills unsupported by the government.

Sir Keir Starmer was among multiple voices claiming that this plan - or at least the timing of its announcement- was a dead cat strategy to distract from Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak's covid party fines.

If this is all a ‘look, squirrel!’ move by the Conservatives to distract the electorate from other unsavoury goings-on, the obvious question is ‘which ones?’

At this point squirrels are capering around a high piled, rotting stench of feline fur – and yet voters refuse to be diverted.

Maybe it is all a distraction strategy but that doesn't mean we should ignore it and, although I'm not sure Boris Johnson can, the majority of the electorate are capable of handling more than one thought at once.

They are paying attention, they are aware of the issues and engaging with the issues. Will it all be enough to put them off a Conservative vote at the ballot box when the opportunity next arises? Or will Boris Johnson's tactic of waiting for problems to blow over actually work?

Rather than equitable and sensible measures, the government is making performative gestures in a bid to look tough on protecting the country's sovereignty. It looks merely cruel and chaotic, but cruelty and chaos are hallmarks of this government and surely no dead cat can be enough to distract from that.