British lawmakers have given their approval to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's Rwanda bill, a crucial element of the government's plan to designate Rwanda as a safe third country for relocating individuals. The bill successfully passed the House of Commons with 320 votes in favor and 276 against. This significant development is seen as a pivotal step in the government's strategy to deter illegal immigration.
A spokesperson for the Prime Minister's office emphasized the importance of this bill in the government's broader initiative to "stop the boats." The agreement between Britain and Rwanda, established in April 2022, outlines a plan to process the claims of illegal immigrants and asylum seekers in Rwanda. Successful applicants would then be granted permanent residency in Rwanda rather than being allowed to return to Britain.
However, the scheme has faced challenges, with the first planned flight to relocate migrants to Rwanda canceled in June 2022 following intervention by the European Court of Human Rights. Two months ago, the UK's Supreme Court ruled the government's approach as "unlawful."
In response, the British government introduced emergency legislation, the Safety of Rwanda Bill, designed to override domestic and international human rights laws. The recent vote on amendments to the bill revealed internal division within the governing Conservative Party, as around 60 Conservative MPs opposed the government. Three Conservative lawmakers, including two deputy chairmen of the party, resigned over the vote on amendments, highlighting the contentious nature of the issue.
Keir Starmer, leader of the opposition Labour Party, criticized Sunak, stating that he has been "brutally exposed by his own MPs" and described the government's plan as a "farce." Despite the challenges, the British government affirmed its commitment to the scheme, having already provided Rwanda with 240 million British pounds (approximately $304 million) under the agreement. The bill will now proceed to the House of Lords for its first reading.
(With Agency Inputs)