LEGAL and illegal migration are two very separate, and two very big, issues for Britain.

By using small boats, 45,700 people illegally entered the UK in 2022. So far in 2023, that number is under 30,000 – still way too high, but moving in the right direction. This has been achieved by co-operating with France, by employing more processors to assess the new arrivals’ applications, and by appealing to the gods which control the weather in the Channel.

The people-smugglers do need to be stopped, if only because they too many of their customers drown.

Yet if you are prepared to risk your life in the flimsiest boat crossing the world’s busiest shipping lane, is the remote prospect of being one of a few hundred to be moved on to Rwanda going to deter you? In the great gamble, the answer is no.

But Rwanda has so far cost Britain £140m in direct fees and multi-millions more in civil servants and barristers’ times, and yet the only people who have been sent to the African country are three Conservative Home Secretaries.

Not only is it morally dubious, but it also does not represent value for money – although perhaps it does make the Conservatives look tough in tackling the problem, and look brave in taking on the courts. Voters, though, will see through this performative politics.

Even those on the right doubt that the plan – cooked up by Boris Johnson to distract from his partygate problems – will ever work, with Richard Tice, the leader of the Reform party (once known as the Brexit Party) saying the money would be better spent on processing every application within a fortnight, giving those who fail a week to appeal, and then removing those with no right to be here.

He is probably right.

And the best way to prevent future small boat crossings is to bring peace to the Middle East – how many of Gaza’s 800,000 civilians are, understandably, desperate for a way out?