Sunak vows to ‘take on’ critics of Rwanda deportation plan
UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has said he intends to confront critics of his government’s controversial plans to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda, days after the proposal was struck down by London’s Supreme Court.
The Rwanda asylum policy, which was part of a campaign pledge by Sunak to vastly reduce the flow of immigrants arriving into the UK on small boats across the English Channel, would see those arriving illegally deported to the African nation.
However, on Wednesday the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the policy was not actionable. It claimed people sent to Rwanda would be at “real risk” of being returned to their home country, regardless of whether their grounds to seek asylum were legitimate or not – a breach of international human rights law.
Faced with pushback from political opponents, Sunak told reporters on Thursday that his patience on the matter had “worn thin” and that the UK public “just want the problem fixed.”
“We can pass these laws in Parliament that will give us the powers and tools we need,” Sunak said during a visit to a school in Derbyshire. “Then we can get the flights off and whether it’s the House of Lords or the Labour Party standing in our way, I will take them on because I want to get this thing done and I want to stop the boats.”
Sunak’s government has said it could circumvent the Supreme Court ruling by amending the deal with Rwanda into a binding international treaty that would prohibit Rwanda from returning asylum seekers to their country of origin. The PM added on Wednesday that the House of Commons could enact emergency legislation “to confirm that with our new treaty, Rwanda is safe.”
Labour leader Keir Starmer, who opposes the plan, has said that he will cancel the policy should he triumph in the next election and on Thursday called for Sunak to “stop pursuing the expensive gimmicks.”
Suella Braverman, the former Home Secretary sacked by Sunak on Monday, has in recent days become a vocal critic of the PM’s leadership. She has warned that Sunak seeking a treaty with Rwanda would not solve “the fundamental issue” that the UK’s most senior court found the proposal to be unlawful.
“Any new treaty would still require going back through the courts, a process that would likely take at least another year,” Braverman wrote in The Telegraph on Thursday. She added that it would be unlikely for any asylum seekers to be flown to Rwanda by the time of the next UK general election.
An election is expected to be held in 2024, and must take place before January 2025.