“We will finally stop the boats” – Rishi Sunak

Suella Braverman, former Home Secretary (left) and Rishi Sunak, current Prime Minister (right)

What is it?

Following months of postponement, legislative squabbles, and legal disputes, Rishi Sunak’s Rwanda bill is about to take enforcement. The Supreme Court declared the plan to be illegal, therefore the Rwanda bill was introduced to make it possible for it to proceed. 

The Rwanda policy, according to the government, will act as a deterrent and stop the tens of thousands of individuals who risk everything every year to cross from France into Britain. Some migration experts have questioned this, arguing that those who journey to Britain in small boats already risk dying. 

Following a period of rest during the coronavirus outbreak, the number of asylum seekers crossing the English Channel increased, prompting the Conservative administration to promise to “stop the boats.” The majority of people who arrive in Britain on small, frequently unseaworthy boats ask for international protection through the asylum system; many of them are subsequently determined to be refugees and are allowed to settle in the country. 

The government imposed a policy that stated that anybody coming by small boat or by any other “irregular means” would never be permitted to apply for asylum in Britain through some measures and agreements. Rather, they would be imprisoned and transferred to Rwanda, where their asylum claims would be considered and, should they be granted permission, they would be resettled.

So … What’s the bill about?

Following the Supreme Court’s decision to declare the plan illegal, the government filed a bill to explicitly state in UK legislation that Rwanda is a safe nation. After prolonged political bickering, the measure ultimately took effect on April 22. It directs the courts to disregard important provisions of the Human Rights Act.

Additionally, it forces the courts to ignore other international agreements or British laws, such as the Refugee Convention, which would prevent deportations to Rwanda. Additionally, the UK government and Rwanda inked a new migration deal that, according to Home Secretary James Cleverly, ensures that anyone moved there won’t run the risk of being sent back home.

December of last year saw James Cleverly arrive at Kigali International Airport.

Responses and reactions?

French President, Emmanuel Macron. Source: The Guardian

Shortly after the UK government enacted the Rwanda deportation bill, Emmanuel Macron denounced migration policies that include sending individuals to African countries, calling them “a betrayal of our [European] values”.

The comments were made by the French president during a comprehensive address on Thursday that was intended to caution Europe against becoming excessively dependent on other nations for commerce and security.

Michael Martin, Irish Foreign Affairs Minter

The UK’s deportation strategy from Rwanda has been attacked by Ireland’s Minister of Foreign Affairs as a “knee-jerk reaction” to the failure to regulate immigration following Brexit.

Following the Irish government’s assertion that 80% of the nation’s asylum seekers had crossed the border from Northern Ireland, deputy prime minister Micheal Martin continued, saying that the “Rwanda effect” had affected Ireland.

Who’s going? And how much is this going to cost?

Source: BBC

By the end of 2023, the UK government had given Rwanda £240 million.

However, the National Audit Office estimates that the entire payout will be at least £370 million spread over five years. The costs of paying anyone who chooses to travel to Rwanda of their own volition are not included in these statistics.

The UK would provide a one-time payment of £120 million to support Rwanda’s economy if more than 300 people were transported there, with additional payments of £20,000 for each person relocated. Furthermore, each person transported there will receive up to £150,000 in compensation, according to the NAO study.

In this pool are 52,000 individuals.

The only individuals who could be deported to Rwanda are those who have applied for asylum in the UK and entered without permission from another safe nation.

That basically refers to individuals who crossed the English Channel in a dinghy. It’s important to emphasise that this is before the government determines if they are refugees or not; Rwanda is supposed to handle the legal demand for protection.

By Fatima