British PM Rishi Sunak Vows to Send Asylum Seekers to Rwanda Within 10 to 12 Weeks

UK PM Sunak vows first Rwanda deportation flights within 10-12 weeks, despite legal challenges. Controversial plan aims to deter Channel migrant crossings, but faces opposition from Labour and rights groups.

Emmanuel Abara Benson
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Rishi Sunak Vows to Pass Rwanda Asylum Seeker Bill as UK Government Faces Vote Showdown

British PM Rishi Sunak Vows to Send Asylum Seekers to Rwanda Within 10 to 12 Weeks

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has pledged that the first flights carrying asylum seekers to Rwanda will take off within 10 to 12 weeks, despite facing challenges in passing the controversial legislation through Parliament.

In a press conference on Monday, Sunak warned that both the House of Commons and House of Lords will sit through the night until the Safety of Rwanda Asylum and Immigration Bill is passed.

The bill aims to overcome objections from the UK Supreme Court, which ruled the Rwanda scheme unlawful in November 2023, by treating Rwanda as a safe country for asylum seekers and allowing ministers to ignore emergency injunctions from the European Court of Human Rights. However, the House of Lords has repeatedly blocked the legislation, demanding exemptions for Afghan nationals who assisted British troops.

Sunak accused the opposition Labour Party and peers in the Lords of delaying the implementation of the plan, saying the first flights will now take off in July, later than his initial spring target. The government has already made preparations, including increasing detention spaces, training caseworkers, identifying judges to process the deportations, and booking commercial charter planes.

Why this matters: The Rwanda asylum seeker plan is a key part of Sunak's pledge to stop the boats carrying migrants across the English Channel illegally. The issue of illegal channel crossings is a potent political topic in Britain, with the number of people arriving on small boats soaring in recent years.

Labour has criticized the Rwanda scheme, calling it an "extortionate" plan that has failed, and urged the government to instead boost border security. The Refugee Council has also stated that the plan is unlikely to work as a deterrent and will only "compound the chaos within the asylum system at a high cost to taxpayers."

Despite the opposition, Sunak remains determined to push the bill through Parliament. He stressed that the government is ready to start the flights and stop the boats, warning that "no foreign court will stop them from implementing the policy." The overall cost of the Rwanda scheme currently stands at more than half a billion pounds.

Key Takeaways

  • PM Sunak has pledged that the first Rwanda deportation flights will start within 10-12 weeks despite opposition.
  • The UK Government aims to overcome the UK court ruling by treating Rwanda as safe for asylum seekers.
  • Sunak accuses Labour, Lords of delaying plan; first flights now targeted for July.
  • Rwanda scheme is key to Sunak's pledge to stop illegal Channel migrant crossings.
  • Rwanda plan costs over £500 million; govt ready to start flights despite opposition.