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Sunak: Nothing will stand in our way of getting Rwanda flights off the ground

23 Apr 2024 5 minute read
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at press conference in response to the Supreme Court ruling that the Rwanda asylum policy is unlawful. Leon Neal/PA Wire

The Prime Minister has said “nothing will stand in our way” of getting flights off the ground after the Government’s Rwanda deportation plan passed through Parliament.

The House of Lords had been engaged in an extended tussle over the Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill on Monday, sending it back to the Commons five times in a bid to secure changes.

The unelected chamber ended the deadlock after MPs rejected a requirement that Rwanda could not be treated as safe until the secretary of state, having consulted an independent monitoring body, made a statement to Parliament to that effect.

The Government said the Lords amendment was “almost identical” to the previous ones overturned by MPs.

‘Landmark legislation’

In a statement on Tuesday, Rishi Sunak said: “The passing of this landmark legislation is not just a step forward but a fundamental change in the global equation on migration.

“We introduced the Rwanda Bill to deter vulnerable migrants from making perilous crossings and break the business model of the criminal gangs who exploit them.

“The passing of this legislation will allow us to do that and make it very clear that if you come here illegally, you will not be able to stay.

“Our focus is to now get flights off the ground, and I am clear that nothing will stand in our way of doing that and saving lives.”

In a video posted to social media, Home Secretary James Cleverly said the Bill “will become law within days”.

He said: “The Act will prevent people from abusing the law by using false human rights claims to block removals.

“And it makes clear that the UK Parliament is sovereign, giving Government the power to reject interim blocking measures imposed by European courts.

“I promised to do what was necessary to clear the path for the first flight.

“That’s what we have done.

“Now we’re working day in and day out to get flights off the ground.”

Earlier in the upper House, the opposition did not press its demand for the Bill to include an exemption from removal for Afghan nationals who assisted British troops after what critics hailed as a concession.

A Home Office minister said the Government will not send those who are eligible under the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (Arap) to Rwanda.

The new law aims to clear the way to send asylum seekers who cross the Channel in small boats on a one-way flight to Kigali.

Legal challenges

The legislation and a treaty with Rwanda are intended to prevent further legal challenges to the stalled scheme after the Supreme Court ruled the plan was unlawful.

As well as compelling judges to regard the east African country as safe, it would give ministers the power to ignore emergency injunctions.

The Prime Minister says the policy will act as a deterrent to migrants attempting to make the perilous journey across the world’s busiest shipping lane.

In a statement, shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper called the Bill “an extortionately expensive gimmick rather than a serious plan to tackle dangerous boat crossings”.

“The Rwanda scheme will cost more than half a billion pounds for just 300 people, less than one per cent of asylum seekers here in the UK – and there is no plan for the 99%,” she said.

“Instead of spending £2 million per asylum seeker on this failing scheme they should be putting that money into boosting our border security instead, that is Labour’s practical plan.

“This is the third new law the Tories have passed on Channel crossings in two years, each one has made the chaos worse and even senior Tory MPs don’t believe this third law will work.

“As former immigration minister Robert Jenrick has said this is just a plan to get a few symbolic flights off before an election.

“Now the new law has passed, the Conservatives will immediately sign another £50 million cheque to Rwanda on top of the £200 million sent so far, even though not a single asylum seeker has yet been sent.

“The Conservatives should drop this eye-wateringly expensive election stunt and instead adopt Labour’s practical plan boost our border security with new cross-border police and new counter terror style powers to crack down on the criminal gangs, and a new Returns and Enforcement Unit to remove those who have no right to be here.”

Earlier on Monday, Rishi Sunak blamed Labour peers for holding up the Bill, as he acknowledged he will miss his self-imposed spring target for getting the Rwanda scheme off the ground.

Having completed its parliamentary passage, the Bill now goes for royal assent.

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1 month ago

James Cleverly? The bloke that joked about using a rape drug. As a nation. we trust that level of ability to deliver care for people. But we have a failing legal system, the infrastructure is literally crumbling, many cases are years before they get to court including very serious ones such as sexual abuse and rape yet Sunak will fast track something to push harm on vulnerable people? What is it £1.8million a person to be human trafficked to Rwanda? A state that kidnaps and imprisons opposition and shoots refugees. Yeah, Sunak saying its safe is like me saying I… Read more »

Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
1 month ago

Nice of Sunak to tell us that they are working day in and day out on this which is why they are failing to provide governance for the people, the job they were elected to do. They refer to stopping the boats as a ‘moral mission’ before moving directly on to the profoundly IMMORAL mission of trafficking desperate human beings to an unsafe country against their will. Any airline which gets involved in this sick and evil endeavour must be boycotted into bankruptcy.

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