Rishi Sunak is working to solidify a new agreement with Rwanda following the supreme court’s decision to discard a key aspect of the British government’s immigration strategy.
The prime minister stated that a treaty was being drafted with the government in Kigali, which would need to be approved by the UK parliament.
Sources from the Whitehall department stated that the process of passing a treaty and resolving legal challenges in court could potentially take over a year. As a result, it is possible that flights to Rwanda may not be able to commence under any new treaty until after the upcoming election.
After facing legal challenges, the government’s proposal to send asylum seekers to an east African country has been unanimously rejected by five judges at the supreme court. Despite the UK providing over £140m for this policy, deportation flights to Kigali will not be taking place.
Speaking to members of parliament, Sunak stated that he would “complete” a new agreement with Rwanda in response to the ruling made by the supreme court.
He reassured conservative politicians who were urging the government to restrict court involvement in immigration law, stating he was open to reconsidering our local legal systems if needed.
The government is already in the process of creating a new treaty with Rwanda, and we will complete it based on today’s ruling,” he stated.
The decision of the highest court is anticipated to bar the UK government from legally deporting anyone to Rwanda, given the current evidence.
The spokesperson for Sunak stated that the UK government had been developing other options for handling the deportation policy in Rwanda prior to the supreme court’s ruling.
When was the process of creating a new agreement with Kigali initiated? In response, the spokesperson stated that due to the nature of the court system, they are currently addressing a matter that occurred 15 months ago. The UK government has been actively aware of this and has been diligently working, including on this specific treaty, to be ready to take action after the court’s ruling.
When questioned about Suella Braverman’s statement that there was no backup plan for the Rwanda policy, a representative for Sunak responded that it would be best to direct the question to her. As for their team, they have been focusing on the treaty and other strategies. They have never claimed that there is one solution to this issue, which is why they have pursued multiple approaches. As a result, there has been a 33% decrease in illegal crossings compared to the previous year.
James Cleverly, the newly appointed home secretary, addressed the House of Commons and dismissed the hopes of right-wing Conservatives who believed that the government could bypass the European Convention on Human Rights by adding clauses to current laws.
Yvette Cooper, the opposition spokesperson for home affairs, raised concerns about the enforcement of key provisions in the Illegal Immigration Act after the recent ruling by the supreme court. She questioned the implications for the government’s flagship legislation, which was touted by the prime minister just yesterday. However, the government has yet to put these key provisions into effect, as the policy is ineffective even with the involvement of Rwanda and will only result in a growing backlog.
“Is it confirmed that he will not be implementing the core principles of that law this year? Can he also confirm that this implies the prime minister’s promises to enact the new law to prevent boat arrivals and to discontinue the use of hotels will not be fulfilled this year?”
Cooper alleged that Cleverly had previously made a private comment referring to the Rwanda plan as “batshit”. In a statement to the Commons, she stated that she did not think the new home secretary ever truly supported the plan and had distanced himself from it and his predecessor’s language regarding it. She also mentioned that he may have privately referred to it as “batshit” at times.
Cleverly chose not to directly address the assertion made by the Labour spokesperson when he later responded to her inquiries.
A Rwandan government spokesperson, Yolande Makolo, said her government took issue with the ruling that Rwanda was not a safe third country for asylum seekers. However, Rwandan opposition politicians have criticised the proposals for wanting to send asylum seekers to a poor nation, saying a country such as the UK that is richer than Rwanda should not renege on its responsibility to host refugees fleeing persecution.
Some leaders who oppose the idea have been stating that Rwanda, a country that still has its own citizens seeking refuge, is not a suitable place for those escaping persecution.
According to Frank Habineza, the head of Rwanda’s opposition party, the Democratic Green party, he has been openly expressing his opposition to the policy. He stated to the Guardian that Rwanda would not be able to financially support asylum seekers rejected by Britain.
Habineza stated that the United Kingdom should accept responsibility for hosting asylum seekers, as it is the nation they have chosen. If the UK wishes to relocate these individuals, they should consider sending them to another European country.