PM Rishi Sunak Acknowledges Delay: First Deportation Flight to Rwanda Postponed Until July

PM Rishi Sunak Acknowledges Delay: First Deportation Flight to Rwanda Postponed Until July
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London (Parliament News) – Prime Minister Rishi Sunak admits the first deportation flight to Rwanda faces a significant delay until July, blaming Labour and the House of Lords for obstruction.

The first deportation flight moving asylum seekers to Rwanda will not take off until July, Rishi Sunak has revealed a significant delay to his flagship illegal migration procedure. The prime minister expressed the first flight to Kigali would begin taking off “in 10 to 12 weeks”, opposing his longstanding pledge that they would start this spring.

According to the Guardian, In a press conference on Monday, Sunak stated there would be a “regular rhythm” of deportations from July onwards to prevent asylum seekers. He accused Labour and the House of Lords for the delay, claiming they had used “every trick in the book” to hold up progress. “If Labour peers had not spent weeks holding up the bill in the House of Lords to try to block these flights altogether, we would have begun this process weeks ago,” Sunak said.

The prime minister insisted the Lords, who have pushed amendments that have slowed the passage of the bill, to respect the will of the Commons. “Enough is enough. No more prevarication, no more delay. Parliament will sit there tonight and vote no matter how late it goes. No ifs, no buts,” he stated.

“Starting from the moment that the bill passes, we will begin the process of removing those identified for the first flight. We have prepared for this moment.”

What measures has the government undertaken?

The prime minister expressed an airfield was on standby and that charter flights had been reserved to take asylum seekers on the one-way trip to Rwanda.

He added there was raised court capacity to deal with any legal cases “quickly and decisively” including 25 courtrooms and 150 judges who could provide 5,000 sitting days. The government has also expanded detention spaces to 2,200 and tasked 500 officials with escorting people to Rwanda.

Why does Sunak consider the plan essential?

Sunak stated the plan would be a “game changer” and an “indispensable deterrent so that we finally break the business model of the criminal gangs and save lives”.

He refused to give details on a number of people likely to leave on flights to Rwanda. “It’s not just about that one flight. It’s about putting a system in place and that’s what we’ve done that will ensure the successful delivery of multiple flights a month, through the summer and beyond until the boats have stopped,” he said.

He added: “This is one of the most complex operational endeavours the Home Office has carried out. But we are ready, plans are in place and these flights will go, come what may.”

The prime minister expressed the Rwandan government was still “completely committed” to the policy despite the uncertainties to its implementation, and that in Kigali there was lodging ready for asylum seekers and lawyers ready to provide legal assistance.

How committed is Rwanda to the policy?

There have been reports that some of the homes in Kigali earmarked for the scheme have been sold off. “Rwanda cares about tackling this issue,” Sunak declared. “They’re as passionate as we are about ending this global illegal migration crisis.”

The Foreign Office minister Andrew Mitchell indicated earlier that the objections of peers “border on racism” and declared Rwanda’s capital, Kigali, was safer than London.

Referring to a Lords amendment to the Rwanda bill that suggests independent monitoring of the country’s safety, different from its own judiciary, Mitchell told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: 

“Some of the discussions which have gone on in the Lords about the judicial arrangements, legal arrangements within Rwanda, have been patronising and, in my view, border on racism, so we don’t think it’s necessary to have that amendment either and that the necessary structures are in place to ensure that the scheme works properly and fairly.”

Beth Malcolm

Beth Malcolm is Scottish based Journalist at Heriot-Watt University studying French and British Sign Language. She is originally from the north west of England but is living in Edinburgh to complete her studies.