It was Priti Patel who opted for the Rwanda solution apparently. It was a choice between the Falkland Islands and Stockton on Tees. In the end the African nation become the deportation option of choice. There were fewer Tory voters in residence.
OK there were some drawbacks to the Rwandan option. Human rights abuses and political repression featured. Some might feel, a country with a history including the 1994 genocide wasn't exactly a safe option. Issues of "Refoulement" held sway.
Refoulement refers to the act of forcing a refugee or asylum seeker to return to a country where they are likely to face persecution or danger. It is a fundamental principle of international law forbidding a country receiving asylum seekers from returning them to a country where they would be at risk.
Rwanda has a history of refoulement. The UK Supreme Court ruled that it would be unlawful to remove refugees to Rwanda due to the risk of refoulement, concluding Rwanda is not a "safe" option.
Rishi Sunak, was never a great fan ...
At origin, Rishi Sunak, as Chancellor of the Exchequer was never a great fan. According to Matt Chorley in the Times, "Sunak hated the daft idea". Sunak and his Treasury team didn't think much of the policy, privately raising concerns with Downing Street and Cabinet colleagues about whether it would work and if it provided value for money. Several people involved in the discussions said Sunak also had objections on ethical grounds.
James Cleverly, Home Secretary, has been accused of calling the government's Rwanda policy "batshit". [He has repeatedly refused to confirm or deny using that term.] As indeed, he has never made derogatory remarks about Stockton on Tees, just their local MP.
The plan has been widely condemned as inhumane, illegal, unworkable, and prohibitively expensive. Critics have included Tory MPs and Peers, the UN's refugee agency (UNHCR), the Archbishop of Canterbury and Gary Lineker.
Sunak had the option to drop the plan but decided to "plough on" regardless. He was prepared to sack HS2 but stuck with Rwanda in his commitment to "Stop the Boats". If only had promised to halve the boats and stop inflation he might have had a get out. The option appears to be to carry on regardless in a back me or sack, unite or die message, to the Tory rank and file.
The government has now paid almost £300 million to the Rwandan government to prepare for the reception of the boat people. Hotel Rwanda has been readied along with the series of luxury apartments. Patel was so impressed she almost placed a deposit herself on a room with a view of the "land of a thousand hills".
Shocked by the Supreme Court Ruling ...
Shocked by the Supreme Court Ruling, the prime minister is pursuing a two-pronged strategy to overcome legal obstacles thrown up the the Court Challenge.
First, the government has agreed to a new treaty that guarantees migrants relocated from Britain to Rwanda will not be sent back to their home country. Promise.
Second Rwanda is a safe country. The UK government will declare in law that, thanks to safeguards enshrined in the treaty, Rwanda is a "safe country". It will instruct "every decision-maker", whether a Home Office official or a court or tribunal to "conclusively treat Rwanda as a safe country" when deciding whether to remove an individual to that country.
[As an addendum to the bill, the government will write into law that Kensington, is a safe place to wear an Audemars Piaget watch, with a short sleeved shirt, driving a Porsche or Ferrari in the sunny season.]
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has also been involved in the UK's policy regarding the removal of asylum-seekers to Rwanda. The ECHR has already intervened, granting an urgent interim measure to prevent the removal of an individual to Rwanda. Judgments are binding on the 46 Council of Europe member states that have ratified the convention.
If you want to start a fight in the Tory Party shout Europe ...
The hard line European Research Group were outraged. To think that a European institution should menace the sovereignty of the land of pomp and glory.
Suella Braverman set out to become the champion of the hard right. "We will fight them on the beaches and on the court benches" the call to action. We will opt out of ECHR (or anything with Europe in the title) the mantra. Just as well NATO doesn't become NEATO or we would have to quit that too.
The Tory"Star Chamber" the ERG's lawyers has warned the legislation is not watertight enough to prevent legal challenges and is not fit for purpose.
Robert Jenrick, the immigration minister, quit in the belief that the plans were too weak. In a pointed rebuttal to the Prime Minister, he said it was "very clear" to those who understood the issues, "the Bill will not work".
Speaking on BBC's Sunday Show with Laura Kuennsberg, Jenrick said a political choice had been made to "bring forward a bill that doesn't do the job".
He warned section four of the Bill allowing migrants to appeal their deportation on an individual basis would lead to a range of legal claims, which will "bog down the scheme and will not create the deterrent the Prime Minister and I set out to achieve."
It really is time to axe the option ...
According to the latest data, around 46,000 people were detected crossing the channel in 2022. This year the number is expected to fall below 30,000. Agreements with France and Albania have assisted the drop in numbers. Stuck on a barge with legionnaires disease doesn't appeal. Sunak has halved inflation and almost halved the number of boats crossing the channel.
Meanwhile, the number of immigrants entering the country legally has hit 1.3 million over the last two years. Hard to see why the obsession with sending boat people to Rwanda is so intense. Sunak's policies are set to halve inflation, halve the number of boats and halve the number of Tory MPs if continued.
The Prime Minister must learn to choose his battlegrounds ... Rwanda is not the one to fight them on the back benches ....
The Saturday Economist
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