Rishi Sunak Affirms Strong UK-Rwanda Ties, Vows Deportation Flights in 10-12 Weeks

UK PM Sunak affirms commitment to Rwanda deportation scheme, vowing first flight in 10-12 weeks despite opposition. Scheme aims to tackle illegal migration, but faces legal challenges and concerns over Rwanda's capacity.

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Nitish Verma
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Rishi Sunak Affirms Strong UK-Rwanda Ties, Vows Deportation Flights in 10-12 Weeks

Rishi Sunak Affirms Strong UK-Rwanda Ties, Vows Deportation Flights in 10-12 Weeks

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has affirmed the strong ties between the UK and Rwanda, stating that Rwanda is fully committed to ensuring the success of their joint scheme to deport asylum seekers. Sunak said that the first flight carrying migrants to Rwanda will leave in 10 to 12 weeks, and that the UK government is determined to start the flights and stop the boats crossing the English Channel.

Sunak blamed the Labour opposition for the delays in the scheme, but vowed that "these flights are going to Rwanda". The Prime Minister said that an airfield is on standby and charter flights have been booked to take asylum seekers on the one-way trip to Rwanda. The government has also increased detention spaces, trained caseworkers, and secured court capacity to process claims quickly.

Why this matters: The UK's controversial Rwanda deportation scheme has faced significant opposition and legal challenges since it was first proposed. Its implementation could have major implications for the UK's asylum policies and its relationship with Rwanda, as well as setting a precedent for other countries considering similar arrangements.

Despite efforts by opponents to block the plan, Sunak said the government is ready to proceed with the first flight to Rwanda. He thanked the Rwandan government for their work in strengthening their asylum system and setting up a new appeals tribunal. Sunak stated that the success of the deterrent does not rest on one flight alone, but on a relentless, continuous process of removing people to Rwanda.

The UK government has focused on the role of people smuggling gangs as part of their messaging around the deportation bill, with Sunak saying the gangs were currently targeting vulnerable Vietnamese migrants. He defended the plan as necessary to combat sophisticated criminal gangs that are exploiting vulnerable migrants.

The debate on the 'Safety of Rwanda Bill' is ongoing in the House of Commons. The government maintains that the plan is necessary to tackle illegal migration and has rejected amendments from the House of Lords. Sunak warned that Parliament will sit and vote on the bill, with no ifs or buts, stating "these flights are going to Rwanda". Despite concerns about Rwanda's capacity and the high costs of the scheme, Sunak promised a regular rhythm of multiple flights every month over the summer and beyond until the boats are stopped.

Key Takeaways

  • UK PM Sunak affirms strong UK-Rwanda ties, vows to start migrant deportation flights in 10-12 weeks.
  • Sunak blames Labour for delays, says flights to Rwanda are happening with increased detention and processing.
  • Deportation scheme faces opposition, but UK govt defends it as necessary to combat people smuggling.
  • Debate on 'Safety of Rwanda Bill' ongoing, with govt rejecting Lords' amendments and promising regular flights.
  • Sunak promises a continuous process of removing migrants to Rwanda until the boats crossing the Channel are stopped.