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PM Sunak convinces Parliament to approve his “Safety of Rwanda” bill

Wednesday, December 13th 2023 - 10:30 UTC
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“The British people should decide who gets to come to this country, not criminal gangs or foreign courts,” Sunak said after the controversial bill passed. “The British people should decide who gets to come to this country, not criminal gangs or foreign courts,” Sunak said after the controversial bill passed.

British PM Rishi Sunak and his 'stop the boats' policy managed a crucial vote when Parliament passed 313 to 269 on Tuesday the Safety of Rwanda bill, which intends to send asylum seekers and migrants to the African country.

“The British people should decide who gets to come to this country — not criminal gangs or foreign courts,” Sunak said on social media after the controversial bill passed.

Despite the large majority held by Sunak's Conservatives, the plan that envisages sending the asylum-seekers to Rwanda was opposed not only by the opposition but also by dozens of hard-liners within his own party. Britain's climate minister, Graham Stuart, was even recalled to London from the COP28 summit in Dubai to ensure his vote.

However the importance Sunak has attached to the policy, ahead of next year's expected general election could mean failure would bring about his downfall.

Ahead of the vote, Sunak took to social media to urge lawmakers to support what he called “the toughest ever anti-illegal immigration legislation.”

“This bill will allow us to control who comes into this country — not criminal gangs or foreign courts,” he wrote. “To stop the boats, we need to back this bill.”

“Stop the boats,” which refers to the vessels carrying migrants attempting to cross the Channel to Britain from the European mainland, has been a frequent rallying cry by the Conservative government in recent years. More than 29,000 people have made the crossing this year, although less than 46,000 in 2022

Conservative hard-liners say the Rwanda policy does not ensure that people who arrive in the UK without permission can be deported, as it would allow them to challenge their expulsion in both UK courts and at the European Court of Human Rights.

Human rights groups, on the other hand, say not only that the plan is unworkable but that it is unethical to send asylum-seekers to a country more than 6,500 kilometers away without allowing them to ever return to the UK. In addition, the Supreme Court in a ruling said that Rwanda cannot be considered a safe country to send migrants, declaring the plan illegal.

Sacha Deshmukh, chief executive of Amnesty International UK, called the plan an “outrageous attack on the very concept of universal human rights.”

Supporters of the idea, which has already cost the UK government 240 million British pounds (US$ 300 million) in payments to Rwanda, say it will deter people from making the hazardous sea journeys and put people-smuggling gangs out of business. But so far not a single person has been sent to Rwanda under the plan.

Categories: Economy, Politics, International.

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