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On UK’s Rwanda Bill and Stop the Boats Campaign



The 'Safety of Rwanda' bill, pushed through the House of Commons by British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, has sparked considerable controversy and internal strife within the Conservative Party. The bill is a crucial part of Sunak's anti-immigration agenda, particularly the "Stop the Boats" campaign aimed at discouraging asylum seekers from attempting to reach the UK via the English Channel.

 

The core of the bill involves the deportation of refugees and migrants to Rwanda, where their asylum claims will be heard, and potential resettlement may occur. However, the legislation faced significant hurdles, especially after the Supreme Court struck down Sunak's original Rwanda bill in November, deeming Rwanda unsafe for asylum seekers.

 

In response, Sunak introduced the 'Safety of Rwanda' bill, aiming to make it more resilient to legal challenges by having the House of Commons declare, through a majority vote, that Rwanda is a safe country for asylum seekers.

 

Despite threats of rebellion from within Sunak's own party, only 11 hardline Conservative MPs opposed the bill, and it passed with a 320-276 vote. This victory, however, is not without consequences, as it exposes deep divisions within the Conservative Party and questions Sunak's leadership.

 

The origin of the Rwanda policy dates back to April 2022 when former Prime Minister Boris Johnson first announced it. Legal battles ensued, and the policy faced setbacks, including a European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) injunction that halted a Rwanda-bound flight in June 2022. The recent success in the House of Commons follows months of political struggle and internal disputes.

 

The expected Conservative rebellion, led by figures like MP Robert Jenrick and former UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman, did not materialize fully. Rebels attempted to make amendments to the bill, including measures to prevent last-minute ECHR injunctions, but these were voted down. The rebels, acknowledging the need for some legislation, ultimately fell short in challenging the government.

 

Now, the bill moves to the House of Lords, where further debate and voting will take place. Analysts suggest that the Lords could still obstruct or delay the bill, underscoring that Sunak's success in the Commons may be a temporary victory.


Additionally, the deep divisions within the Conservative Party and challenges to Sunak's authority may have lasting consequences, particularly as the next general election approaches, with polls indicating potential electoral challenges for Sunak's leadership.

 

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