On June 14, a jet chartered by the British government to forcibly deport asylum-seekers 4,000 miles away to a Central African police state sat on a runway at a military base in southern England. Nearly 50 men had been informed they would be on the flight, but in the preceding days a flurry of legal challenges ensured that just seven were boarded. Some allege they were harnessed and assaulted.
A few hours before takeoff, a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights—part-established by Britain after World War II, it is independent from the European Union and therefore holds sway post-Brexit—allowed the remaining passengers to disembark and be spared deportation; for now they remain detained and in limbo. The plane returned to its home base in Spain empty save for its crew—and a bill for the taxpayer of up to 500,000 pounds (around $615,000). It was a perfect metaphor for current British asylum policy: a cruel, expensive, and pointless spectacle.