UK Deportation Flights To Rwanda Will Take Off 'Come What May': PM Sunak

(MENAFN- The Peninsula) AFP

London: UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Monday promised that deportation flights of asylum seekers to Rwanda will begin in "10 to 12 weeks", as the plan entered its final stage in parliament.

"We are ready, plans are in place and these flights will go, come what may," Sunak told a Downing Street news conference, hours before parliament is set to approve the contentious proposal.

Sunak says it is essential to deter record numbers of asylum seekers crossing the Channel to England from France in small boats and has made it a key pillar of his Conservative party's pitch to voters.

Sunak said that parliament would finally pass into law a bill about the safety of Rwanda for asylum seekers later on Monday following several weeks of legislative to-and-fro between its two chambers.

"Enough is enough. No more prevarication. No more delay," Sunak told reporters, adding that he envisaged "multiple" flights a month over the summer months.

The UK is due to go to the polls in a general election later this year.

The Tories, who promised tighter immigration after the UK left the European Union, are expected to be trounced by the main opposition Labour party, after 14 years in power.

But the party's flagship scheme has been mired in difficulties and legal challenges since it was first proposed by Boris Johnson in May 2022 when he was prime minister.

So far no migrants have been sent to Rwanda.


The legislation is Sunak's answer to a Supreme Court ruling last year that sending migrants to Rwanda was illegal under international law.

The new bill would compel judges to regard the east African nation as a safe third country and gives ministers the power to disregard sections of international and British human rights law.

The government has said it will not concede to two amendments sought by the unelected upper chamber House of Lords when members of the elected House of Commons lower chambers considers them on Monday afternoon.

One seeks exemption from deportation for people who worked with the UK military overseas, such as Afghan interpreters.

The other asks that an independent monitor be established to determine whether Rwanda is in fact safe.

Lords are expected to concede defeat at some point, recognising that they are unelected and their roles are largely focused on scrutinising legislation and proposing amendments.

Once the legislation is passed, it is expected to receive royal assent later this week, officially putting it on the statute book.

Sunak said the government has put an airfield on standby and has booked commercial charter planes for the first flight.

He pledged a "regular rhythm" of multiple flights across the summer and beyond "until the boats have stopped".

More than 120,000 people have crossed the Channel on rudimentary vessels since 2018, when the government started recording numbers, and dozens have died, according to monitors.


The Peninsula

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