UK Government Under Fire as Rwanda Deportation Flights Law Faces Further Delays Amid ‘Migration Emergency’

UK Government Under Fire as Rwanda Deportation Flights Law Faces Further Delays Amid ‘Migration Emergency’

Downing Street acknowledged the severity of a ‘migration emergency’ in the UK but opted against pushing through its Rwanda deportation flights law before Easter. The government encountered inquiries regarding the commencement of flights transporting channel arrivals to East Africa, following recent defeats inflicted by peers on the legislation.

Introduced as ’emergency’ legislation in November, the Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill aimed to swiftly establish its presence in the statute book. However, Commons Leader Penny Mordaunt disclosed that MPs will not deliberate on the legislation until April 15, extending the timeline by over four months. Consequently, the Prime Minister’s aspiration of initiating deportation flights in the spring appears increasingly challenging.

The setback occurred amidst reports of Wednesday witnessing the highest number of Channel crossings since the beginning of 2024. Home Office data suggests that over 4,000 individuals have crossed the English Channel thus far this year, with 514 people undertaking the journey in 10 boats.

According to the Prime Minister’s official spokesman, the delay in legislation is frustrating, given the ongoing perilous journeys across the Channel. The urgency to curtail such crossings prompted the government to urge parliamentary support for the Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill.

Legislative Disputes and Ongoing Crisis

Unelected peers continued to press for revisions to the Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill, contesting elements such as removing the courts from the process. Despite ministerial appeals to align with the views of MPs, who reversed numerous changes proposed by the Lords earlier in the week, the Lords persisted in their demands.

Ms. Mordaunt hinted at a potential final showdown on April 17 if MPs remove the amendments on April 15 and peers reinstate them. The legislative standoff unfolded against the backdrop of heightened Channel crossings, marking the busiest day of the year thus far.

Chancellor Sunak has emphasized the Rwanda policy as central to the government’s commitment to ‘Stop the Boats.’ Despite assurances from government sources that deportation flights can proceed after Easter, concerns linger regarding the time required to implement the plan even after the legislation receives Royal Assent.

Contentions and Amendments

The Bill and a treaty with Rwanda aim to preempt further legal challenges to the stalled asylum scheme following a Supreme Court ruling deeming the plan unlawful. Notably, amendments sought by the Lords include restoring the jurisdiction of domestic courts concerning the safety of Rwanda and ensuring compliance with domestic and international law.

Peers also advocated for safeguards against sending vulnerable groups, such as unaccompanied children and victims of modern slavery, to Rwanda. The series of defeats in the House of Lords sets the stage for further legislative ping-pong between the two Houses until consensus is reached.

Home Secretary James Cleverly urged swift action, emphasizing the urgency of implementing the scheme amid escalating risks faced by individuals undertaking perilous journeys. He called for an end to discussions to prioritize saving lives and halting the influx of boats.

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