Rishi Sunak is working to complete a new agreement with Rwanda following the supreme court’s decision to overturn a key aspect of the British government’s immigration policy.
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.
According to sources from Whitehall, the process of passing a treaty and navigating legal challenges in court could potentially take over a year. As a result, it is possible that flights to Rwanda may not begin under a new treaty until after the next election.
Five judges at the supreme court have unanimously rejected the government’s proposal to transport asylum seekers to a country in East Africa. Despite the UK providing over £140 million for this plan, deportation flights to Kigali will not proceed as the policy has been delayed due to legal challenges for over a year.
During his speech to Members of Parliament, Sunak announced that he would be “completing” negotiations for a new agreement with Rwanda following the supreme court’s ruling.
He stated that he was willing to reconsider our country’s legal systems if needed, in response to comments from conservative Members of Parliament who were advocating for stricter limitations on court involvement in immigration legislation.
The government has been actively working on a new agreement with Rwanda and we will complete it in response to today’s verdict,” he stated.
The ruling of the highest court is anticipated to prohibit the UK government from legally deporting individuals to Rwanda, taking into account the current evidence.
The official spokesperson for Sunak stated that the UK government had been developing alternative options for the deportation policy in Rwanda prior to the supreme court’s ruling.
When was the process of creating a new treaty with Kigali initiated? The spokesperson responded by stating that due to the functioning of the court system, they are currently addressing an issue from 15 months ago. The UK government has been aware of this and has been actively working on preparations, including for this treaty, in order to be ready to respond after the judgment.
When asked about Suella Braverman’s statement that there was no alternative plan to the Rwanda policy, a spokesperson for Sunak responded that it would be best to direct that question to her. They also clarified that their team has been focused on the treaty and other actions, and have never claimed that there is one solution to addressing this issue. This is why they have pursued multiple approaches, resulting in a decrease in crossings by 33% compared to the previous year.
James Cleverly, the recently appointed home secretary, addressed the House of Commons and addressed concerns from conservative members that the government could bypass the European convention on human rights by adding clauses to current laws.
Yvette Cooper, the opposition’s spokesperson on home affairs, raised concerns about the government’s commitment to enforcing the key components of its Illegal Migration Act in light of the supreme court ruling. She questioned the impact of this ruling on the prime minister’s flagship legislation, which he proudly announced passing just yesterday. However, the government has yet to put into effect the main provisions of this law, as even with Rwanda’s involvement, the policy is ineffective and will only result in a continuously growing backlog.
“Is it confirmed that he will not be implementing the core principles of the law this year? Can he also confirm that this indicates the prime minister’s promises to implement the new law to deter boat arrivals and end the use of hotels will not be fulfilled this year?”
According to Cooper, Cleverly may have once referred to the Rwanda plan as “batshit” in private. She stated in Parliament that she does not think the new home secretary ever truly supported the plan and he made an effort to distance himself from it and his predecessor’s stance on it. There is a possibility that he may have even privately used the term “batshit” to describe it.
In his response to the Labour frontbencher, Cleverly did not directly address her claim, but instead answered her questions.
Yolande Makolo, spokesperson for the Rwandan government, expressed disagreement with the decision that Rwanda is not a secure third country for those seeking asylum. On the other hand, opposition politicians in Rwanda have raised concerns about the plan to relocate asylum seekers to a financially struggling nation. They argue that a wealthier country like the UK should not shirk its responsibility to provide a safe haven for refugees escaping persecution.
Some opposing leaders claim that Rwanda, a country that still generates refugees, is not a suitable place to host those seeking refuge from persecution.
The head of Rwanda’s opposition party, Democratic Green, Frank Habineza, has been outspoken in his criticism of the policy. He stated to the Guardian that Rwanda is unable to provide for asylum seekers rejected by Britain.
Habineza stated that the responsibility of hosting asylum seekers should fall on the UK, as this is the nation they have chosen. If the UK insists on sending these individuals away, then at the very least, they should be sent to another European country.