Will the Home Office really appeal a definitive legal judgement?
When it comes to supporting destitute asylum seekers, the Home Office keeps a firm grip on the purse strings. But when it comes to court cases, it is decidedly profligate.
James Brokenshire, the new immigration minister, looks set to waste even more public money on an unwinnable court case.
There is no limit to how much cash the Home Office is prepared to waste. The reason there is no limit, of course, is because they do not bother counting. So even if there was a limit, we wouldn't know what it was. The department does not collect data on the amount spent on Theresa May's various legal battles and her knee-jerk appeals against even the most comprehensive legal defeat.
They don't count because they do not care. The press do not hound them for it. So they do what they like.
May's latest legal defeat was so definitive she was told by the high court that she was irrational.
Let's restrict ourselves merely to her grasp of maths. It found much else wrong with her decision making, but the maths alone makes the point rather well.
Mr Justice Popplewell found that May's assessment of the living requirements of asylum seekers assumed that the level of support had risen by 11.5% since 2007, whereas it had decreased by 11%.
He found she had failed to take into account inflation eroding the value of support. She had "misunderstood and misinterpreted" Office of National Statistics data. She had failed to gather the information necessary to come to a rational judgement. And she had misdirected herself in law as to her duties towards 16-and-17-year-olds.
It was as comprehensive a legal defeat as you could imagine. Open and shut.
(There's a great Refugee Action briefing on it here if you want a bit more detail.)
And yet standing in the Commons today, Brokenshire repeatedly said that the Home Office had not yet read the judgement – it's now 24 hours old – but that they might appeal.
He said there would be a review of support for asylum seekers, but went so far out of his way to defend current payments that only the most optimistic of observers could conclude that it would prove more generous.
When it comes to helping the needy, there's no money to be found. When it comes to protecting the home secretary, it emerges out of nowhere.