March 2, 2024

Ahead of vote on asylum policy: Ex-minister of state hits out at Sunak

Former British immigration minister Robert Jenrick leaves Downing Street after a cabinet meeting in London. Photo: EPA-EFE/Dolka Akmen

LONDON: British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is facing continued head-butting within his own party ahead of a crucial vote on his immigration policy. The former Minister of State for Migration, Robert Jenrick, published a guest column in the Telegraph newspaper following his resignation this week. In a speech published in Saturday’s edition, he criticized the planned improvements to the agreement with Rwanda as not preventing enough migrants.

The Conservative British government wants to send irregular arrivals to Great Britain to Rwanda without examining their asylum applications and regardless of their true origin. You should seek asylum there. There are no plans to return to Great Britain.

The Conservative government wants to prevent migrants from making the dangerous journey across the English Channel in small boats. So far, the scheme has failed in the courts. Judges have complained that Rwanda lacks a strong asylum procedure, which protects people from being sent back to their home countries.

The British government now wants to address these concerns through Rwanda’s pledges and new legislation. The House of Commons is scheduled to hold a second reading on Tuesday on legislation to declare Rwanda a safe third country. Parts of the British Human Rights Act are to be declared inapplicable.

Sunak is now under pressure to get his Conservative Party behind him. More moderate voices criticize the plans, with some saying they don’t go far enough. Allowing individuals to raise personal circumstances against deportation to Rwanda invites people to find reasons for the delay, Jenrick criticized. The opposition Liberal Democrats are also calling for an inquiry into the cost of the deal. The government has so far transferred 240 million pounds (almost 280 million euros) to Rwanda for the deal.

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