June 20, 2024

Britain: Why Rwanda bill risks failure at last minute

Abroad England

Why the Rwandan law threatens to fail at the last minute

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at a press conference.  British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at a press conference.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at a press conference. “Stop the Boats” was his anti-immigration campaign slogan

Credit: Image Alliance/MPIX/James Manning

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Prime Minister Sunak’s party is at risk of a bitter defeat in the British general election. New statistics on immigration come at the right time. However, the Conservatives’ central migration plan has stalled – and could even be torpedoed if a situation arises.

DBritish Prime Minister Rishi Sunak faces tough weeks ahead. On Wednesday, the leader of the ruling Conservative Party called Britain’s general election for July 4. He has little chance of success. In opinion polls, the Conservatives are 20 percentage points behind Keir Starmer’s Labor Party.

Given a stagnating economy, a crippled NHS and a worsening housing crisis, the Conservatives are unlikely to improve their record in the election campaign. The prime minister had a ray of hope on Thursday when the ONS announced that the number of migrants had fallen last year.

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Pro-Palestine protest in London

According to a survey last year, net immigration, the difference between immigration and emigration, fell from 764,000 to 685,000 immigrants — a ten percent decrease. Music to the ears of conservatives whose mission is to reduce immigration. Home Secretary James wisely immediately sold the news as a sign of the success of his immigration policy. “The plan is working,” he announced.

In fact, despite the slight decline, immigration is still at historically high levels. Since Brexit, the number of immigrants from outside the EU has been increasing. These are primarily international students and workers in the health and care sector and their relatives.

Focus on small wins

Since spring 2023, the Conservative government has been debating new rules to control arrivals. From January, only postgraduates participating in research programs are allowed to bring their relatives with them. According to the Ministry of Home Affairs, 79 percent fewer visa applications were submitted for this purpose by April.

Nursing staff have also not been allowed to bring relatives into the country since April, leading to a 58 percent decline, according to the interior ministry. Since the rules only came into force recently, their announcement last year may have had a deterrent effect at best. For now, they seem to be serving their purpose.

Sunak should focus on these small wins in the coming weeks rather than the centerpiece of his migration agenda, the Rwanda bill. He said on Thursday that the first deportation flights to the East African country would not begin before the election date. Initially there was talk of early July at the latest.

This is disadvantageous to the Prime Minister in terms of electoral strategy, and plays into Labour’s hands. It is uncertain whether the flights will take off if Labor wins. Starmer has said he would repeal the law “immediately” if he becomes prime minister.

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