Sunak Accuses Labour of Lacking Plan to Stop Small Boat Crossings Ahead of 2024 Election

UK PM Sunak accuses Labour of lacking plan to stop migrant boats, vows to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda despite legal challenges. Deportation flights expected within 10-12 weeks as government battles Parliament over controversial bill.

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Mahnoor Jehangir
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Sunak Accuses Labour of Lacking Plan to Stop Small Boat Crossings Ahead of 2024 Election

Sunak Accuses Labour of Lacking Plan to Stop Small Boat Crossings Ahead of 2024 Election

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has accused the opposition Labour Party of lacking a plan to stop the rising number of migrants crossing the English Channel in small boats. The criticism comes as Sunak's government faces increasing pressure to address the ongoing migrant crisis ahead of the general election later in 2024.

Sunak pledged that the first deportation flights carrying asylum seekers to Rwanda will take off within 10 to 12 weeks, despite continued opposition and legal challenges. The government's legislation enabling these flights, known as the Safety of Rwanda Bill, has been stalled in Parliament for over two months due to a standoff between the House of Lords and the House of Commons.

The Prime Minister vowed to keep Parliament in session until the bill is approved, stating, "Parliament will sit there tonight and vote no matter how late it goes." "These flights will go, come what may," Sunak emphasized, adding that the success of this deterrent relies on the "relentless, continual" nature of the removals.

Sunak has staked his political future on stopping the boats, viewing the upcoming local elections as a gauge for the general election later this year. He accused the Labour Party of using "every trick in the book" to stop or slow the bill's passage.

The government has already taken steps to prepare for the deportation flights, including chartering planes, increasing detention space, hiring dedicated caseworkers, and training escorts. However, concerns remain about the high costs of the scheme and its uncertain deterrent effect.

Why this matters: The debate over the Rwanda deportation plan reflects a broader effort by Western European and North American countries to address the rising number of migrants fleeing war, climate change, and political oppression. The outcome of this policy could have significant implications for the UK's approach to immigration and asylum, as well as its international reputation.

Sunak acknowledged that the first deportation flights will not take off this spring as originally planned, but he remains determined to implement the plan. "No foreign court will stop us from getting flights off," he declared, setting the stage for a potential legal battle with advocates for the asylum seekers. As the standoff between the House of Lords and the House of Commons continues, the government is expected to remove changes proposed by the Lords and push forward with the legislation.

Key Takeaways

  • UK PM Sunak accuses Labour of lacking plan to stop migrant boats
  • Sunak vows first deportation flights to Rwanda will leave in 10-12 weeks
  • Sunak staked political future on stopping boats, sees local elections as gauge
  • UK govt prepared for deportations, but concerns remain over costs and deterrence
  • Sunak determined to implement Rwanda plan despite legal challenges