UK Parliament In Stand-Off Over Rwanda Migrants Plan

Despite a parliamentary deadlock over the controversial scheme, Britain’s Conservative government reiterated on Thursday that it still intended to deploy migrants to Rwanda in the coming months.

The measure is Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s response to asylum seekers who risk their lives by crossing the Channel from France to England in small boats.

He expects that sending undocumented migrants on a one-way aircraft to Kigali will help defeat the surging opposition Labour party in a national election later this year.

His plan has been delayed because lords in the unelected upper chamber, the House of Lords, returned it to the elected lower house, the House of Commons, for additional concessions.

Members of the Lords demand adjustments to protect people targeted by the proposed bill.

Earlier this week, the Commons rejected many amendments proposed by the Lords during its initial review of the measure.

Sunak’s official spokesman expressed frustration that the Lords had returned the legislation to the Commons without approval.

“Our spring timelines remain the same as before,” he told reporters, without specifying which month the government hoped the contentious scheme could begin.

Lords seek safeguards

Sunak submitted emergency legislation late last year, following the UK Supreme Court’s ruling that returning asylum seekers to Kigali was unconstitutional under international law.

The measure aims to compel judges to treat Rwanda as a safe third nation.

It would also give UK ministers the authority to reject parts of international and British human rights legislation.

On Wednesday, the Lords urged for an amendment to restore domestic courts’ authority over Rwanda’s safety and allow for intervention.

It also reiterated its demand that the bill show “due regard” for local and international law.

Peers agreed that Rwanda could only be considered safe if the provisions of a separate treaty were fully implemented and maintained.

The Lords also want many other adjustments to prevent the victims of modern slavery and human trafficking — as well as unaccompanied minors — being transported to Rwanda.

Penny Mordaunt, the Commons leader and a Tory MP, told parliament that legislators would vote on the plans on April 15, after returning from their Easter holiday.

Since then-Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the deportation proposal in 2022, it has been fraught with controversy and legal hurdles. There have been no migrants dispatched to Rwanda yet.

The Tories, who have been in office since 2010, are trailing Labour in opinion polls. Sunak has yet to confirm the election date, but says it will be in the second half of the year.

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