New Rwanda treaty delayed as Downing Street says plan not a ‘silver bullet’
Rishi Sunak’s promised new treaty with Rwanda has been delayed, as Downing Street noted the plan to send asylum seekers to the African nation was not a “silver bullet” in stopping Channel crossings.
The deal on the asylum plan with Rwanda and emergency legislation intended to set aside the Supreme Court’s ruling the policy was unlawful were initially expected immediately after the verdict.
No 10 had said in the hours after the November 15 defeat that the deal would be laid before Parliament in the “coming days” so deportation flights could take off “as soon as possible”.
But on Monday, Downing Street declined to say whether the new legally binding pact with Kigali would be signed before the Commons rises for its Christmas recess.
The Prime Minister’s spokesman said: “It’s due to be published in the coming weeks.
“I think people understand that following the judgment, which was relatively recently, it’s right to ensure we have the strongest possible position because we want both the treaty and the Bill to have the best possible chance of success and that’s why we are focused on finalising these details.”
With the Commons’ recess due to begin on December 19, there are not enough sitting days to ratify the treaty before the New Year under the current schedule, with No 10 saying at least 21 are required.
Mr Sunak’s spokesman also refused to comment on “speculation” about what the agreement will entail following reports Rwanda was refusing to sign a treaty that would include British officials’ involvement in its legal system.
The Government’s hope of sending asylum seekers who arrive in the UK on a one-way trip to Rwanda is a key plank of Mr Sunak’s pledge to “stop the boats”.
Friction is said to be emerging within the Cabinet over the policy, with James Cleverly’s comment that the scheme was not the “be all and end all” angering some in the party.
Asked about Tory unease about the Home Secretary’s remarks, which came amid a separate row about record levels of net migration to the UK, Mr Sunak’s spokesman said: “We have made significant substantive progress in stopping the boats, with crossings down a third year-on-year.
“So it is a crucial part of our approach to stopping the boats, but as we’ve always been clear, there is no one silver bullet.
“And that’s why – alongside the continued work to secure the Rwanda migration partnership – we are taking action, whether that’s on bilateral returns agreements, further co-operation with our French counterparts, and that is having an impact.
“But clearly the partnership is a crucial and important part of our overall policy.”
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