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Rishi Sunak’s ‘patience warn thin’ by Rwanda asylum plan setbacks | Politics News

today01/12/2023

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Rishi Sunak has said his “patience is worn thin” by stumbling blocks to his Rwanda asylum plan as he said the government was “finalising” legislation to push through the controversial deal.

The prime minister aims to salvage the scheme by signing a new treaty with the African country and introduce an emergency law to ensure the agreement is legally watertight following the Supreme Court defeat, but this has been delayed.

The policy, which will see some asylum seekers sent on a one-way trip to Rwanda instead of being able to try to stay in the UK, is seen by the government as central to its efforts to deter small boats crossing the English Channel.

The policy is central to government plans to stop small boat crossings
Image:
The policy is central to government plans to stop small boat crossings

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Just hours after the Supreme Court ruled the plan unlawful on 15 November, Downing Street said measures would be brought forward in the “coming days” so deportation flights could take off “as soon as possible”.

The holdup has angered right-wing Tory MPs, further fuelled by the new Home Secretary James Cleverly suggesting the scheme was not the “be all and end all” of the government’s immigration approach.

But speaking in Dubai during his trip to the COP28 climate talks, Mr Sunak signalled legislation to pave the way for the asylum plan was imminent.

He said: “We’re finalising that at the moment. And it’s important that we get it right because this is such a vital issue.

“But I’m clear about the goal here – the goal is to make sure that parliament can declare unequivocally that on the basis of everything that we’ve done that Rwanda is a safe place to operationalise our scheme.

“Once we’ve done that and parliament’s affirmed that, there should be no more domestic blocks to us putting in place this programme that we’ve been working on for a long time.”

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Is Rwanda safe for asylum seekers?

He added: “But I’ve also been clear that I won’t allow a foreign court to block us from flights taking off.

“My patience is worn thin, the British people’s patience is worn thin.

“And although we’ve made great progress on this issue – reducing the number of small boat crossings by a third this year, something that everyone thought was impossible when I got this job – we’ve got more to go.

“I want to finish the job and that’s why I’ll get the Rwanda scheme up and running.”

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But the move faces stiff opposition at Westminster, particularly in the unelected House of Lords where the government does not have a majority.

The prime minister has been urged, including by sacked home secretary Suella Braverman, to adopt tough legislation that includes “notwithstanding” provisions that can prevent judges from applying protections in the Human Rights Act and the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) to asylum cases.

But government lawyers have reportedly warned instructing the courts to ignore the ECHR risks opening up more avenues for migrants to challenge the legality of deportation flights, on the grounds it would breach Britain’s convention obligations.



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