Welsh MPs back controversial deportation Bill
Three Welsh MPs backed a controversial bill which sought to force the UK Government to ignore rulings from the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) over the deportation of asylum seekers to Rwanda.
Jonathan Gullis, a former Conservative minister, introduced his Asylum Seekers (Removal to Safe Countries) Bill to the House of Commons on Wednesday, but MPs declined leave to bring it in by 188 votes to 69.
Conservative MP’s Virginia Crosbie, Ynys Môn, Sarah Atherton, Wrexham and Rob Roberts, Delyn, who now sits as an Independent, all voted for the Bill which critics said proposed breaking international law and breached human rights.
Even if failure is virtually certain for the majority of private members’ bills, it is unusual for ten-minute rule motions to be objected to and they are usually allowed to proceed without any debate at this stage.
Detailing the purpose of his Bill, Mr Gullis, the MP for Stoke-on-Trent North said: “Whilst we may have freed ourselves from EU control, we still have (a) quasi legislative supranational institution that fundamentally undermines decisions made in our democratically elected and sovereign Parliaments.
“That is why I’m introducing my Bill to the House today.”
Mr Gullis explained his proposals would mean “we can get the migrants who have entered the UK illegally, onto the flights to Rwanda” and in the future, to other safe countries to have their claims processed.
He went on: “Thereby changing the law to explicitly ignore the European Court of Human Rights from meddling in our sovereignty on this specific matter.
“This Bill is about demonstrating that Parliament is on the side of the British public in restoring our great nation’s territorial integrity.”
The Conservative MP also praised the Nationality and Borders Act as a “landmark piece of legislation” and referred to Australia’s offshore handling of refugees as “successful”.
On April 14, former home secretary Priti Patel signed what she described as a “world-first” agreement to send migrants to Rwanda but the first deportation flight, due to take off on June 14, was grounded amid legal challenges.
The legality of the policy has since been contested in the courts, with ministers and campaigners awaiting rulings from High Court judges on the case which are expected to be handed down on Monday.
Ahead of the vote, Liz Saville Roberts MP Plaid Cymru’s Westminster Leader said: “Today of all days – when four people died in English Channel – Tory MP Jonathan Gullis has decided to introduce a Bill that will demonise asylum seekers and break international law by proposing the Government deport people regardless of court decisions. Plaid Cymru MPs are voting against.”
Urging MPs to object to the Bill, the SNP’s home affairs spokeswoman Alison Thewliss said she could only assume Mr Gullis had “never met anybody who has fled war or conflict”.
She argued an independent Scotland would “live up to our international responsibilities”, adding: “No one is illegal. This Bill just might be, please object to it.”
According to The Telegraph, Conservative former prime minister Mr Johnson and Ms Patel were in support of the legislation.
The Bill’s other “co-sponsors” included Jacob Rees-Mogg, Nadine Dorries, Tim Loughton and “six other MPs”, the paper said.
The division list released by the Commons authorities later showed that former Welsh Secretary Sir Robert Buckland, David Davis, Simon Hoare and David Simmonds were the only Tories to vote against the Bill.
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