During Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday Rishi Sunak defended the government’s new Rwanda treaty after the Labour leader called the scheme a “gimmick.”
The Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said that the asylum scheme is not making any progress which is costing “hundreds of millions of pounds for nothing in return.”
Sie Keir Starmer told MPs in the House of Commons, “If the purpose of the Rwanda gimmick was to solve a political headache of the Tories’ own making, to get people out of the country who they simply couldn’t deal with, then it’s been a resounding success – after all they’ve managed to send three home secretaries there, an achievement for which the whole country can be grateful.
“So apart from members of his own Cabinet, how many people has the Prime Minister sent to Rwanda?”
Read more related news:
Public are split on the Government’s plans to introduce emergency legislation to implement the Rwanda policy
Sunak said, “We will do everything it takes to get this scheme working so that we can indeed stop the boats and that’s why this week we have signed a new legally binding treaty with Rwanda which together with new legislation will address all the concerns that have been raised.
“Because everyone should be in no doubt about our absolute commitment to stop the boats and get flights off.”
Sunak then accused the Labour leader of “once again instead of being on the side of the British people, he finds himself on the side of the people smugglers.”
Sir Keir who is a barrister, said the Government has actually scaled down their predictions for how many asylum seekers will be deported to Rwanda.
He added, “The current number of people sent there remains stubbornly consistent – zero.
“At the same time, Article 19 of the treaty says the parties shall make arrangements for the United Kingdom to resettle a portion of Rwanda’s most vulnerable refugees in the United Kingdom.
“So, how many refugees from Rwanda will be coming here to the UK under the treaty?”
Sunak simply responded with, the treaty “addresses all the concerns of the Supreme Court.”
The Labour leader asked the Prime Minister if he has actually read the new Rwanda treaty, he told Sunak, “Article 4 says the scheme is capped at Rwanda’s capacity, that is 100; Article 5 says Rwanda can turn them away if they want; Article 19 says we actually have to take refugees from Rwanda.
“How much did this fantastic deal cost us?”
Sunak replied: “As the Home Secretary was crystal clear about, there is no incremental money that has been provided.
“This is … ensuring that the concerns of the Supreme Court have all been addressed in a legally binding treaty that will allow us to operationalise the scheme.”
Sir Keir said, “Annexe A says on top of the £140 million he has already showered on Rwanda, when we send people there under this treaty we have to pay for their accommodation and their upkeep for five years.
“That is not all, this morning a Government minister admitted that anyone we send to Rwanda who commits a crime can be returned to us.”
The Labour leader then referred to claims that the Home Secretary, James Cleverly had called the plan ‘batshit’, Sir Keir added, “I am beginning to see why the Home Secretary said the Rwanda scheme was something to do with ‘bat’, I think, was it?
“What does he first think attracted Mr Kagame to hundreds of millions of pounds for nothing in return?”
Sunak replied, “The simple point is there is a simple question here. If you believe in stopping the boats, as we on this side of the House do, you need to have an effective deterrent and returns agreement. It is as simple as that.”