Rwanda Plan: Politicians, leaders, and rights organisations react

Rwanda Plan: Politicians, leaders, and rights organisations react

As Prime Minister Rishi Sunak pushes the Rwanda Security Bill through Parliament figures from across politics and civil society give their take.

Since the introduction of the Rwanda plan just over two years ago, there has been much said and written about it. Indeed today (22nd April), Prime Minister Rishi Sunak gave a press conference where he once again committed himself to the scheme which he has consistently claimed was wholly necessary to “stop the boats” coming across the channel.

Keir Starmer’s Labour party, who Sunak incorrectly blames for blocking the passage of the latest legislation around the scheme, have consistently stated the scheme, which has a price tag in the hundreds of millions, is “unworkable”.

As the Rwanda Safety bill crunch votes are set to take place in Parliament, with Sunak threatening to keep Parliamentarians there “for as long as it takes” to pass the bill, we reached out to parties, politicians and migrant rights organisations to get their take.

Liberal Democrats

Responding to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s press conference on his Rwanda policy this morning, Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey said:

“No amount of sound bites or spin can change the fact that the Conservative’s Rwanda scheme is a colossal failure. Millions of pounds and years of government attention have already been wasted, with absolutely nothing to show for it.

“It’s time for Rishi Sunak to get a grip, get to the Palace and give this country the election it is crying out for.”

Green Party of England and Wales

Green Party co-leader Carla Denyer told Huck, “I don’t want people risking their lives crossing the channel in small boats. But the way to stop that isn’t this punitive, inhumane approach. It’s providing safe and legal routes for people to apply for asylum from overseas, and working to fix the reasons that people are having to claim asylum – including wars and the climate crisis.

“This Bill is simply a very expensive way to be cruel. We need to get the humanity back into our refugee policy and Green MPs will certainly seek this Bill's abolition after the General Election.”

Plaid Cymru

Plaid Cymru Westminster leader Liz Saville Roberts MP told us, “The Rwanda scheme remains unlawful and unfit for any purpose. The UK government has refused House of Lords amendments calling for such basic things as respect for human rights and modern slavery legislation. The remaining amendments are more basic still – yet the Tories refuse to compromise on this cruel Bill. This speaks volumes.

“Rishi Sunak talks of a “deterrent” – but Home Office documents show little evidence that policies of deterrence work, and the Refugee Council has found that the plan will instead to a higher risk of exploitation.

“It is not too late to stop this vile – and extraordinarily expensive - plan. Plaid Cymru calls on the Tory government to stop undermining human rights and turn its hand to a dignified, compassionate asylum policy as a matter of urgency."

Jeremy Corbyn

The former leader of the Labour party told us, “The Conservatives’ continued efforts to dehumanise refugees is a shameful legacy of this disgraceful government. The Rwanda Bill is a disgusting piece of legislation designed to demonise the world's most vulnerable people. Instead of trying to pass this appalling legislation, the government should be building safe routes and a humane migration system based on care, compassion and dignity.”

Street Resistance
Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants

JCWI Policy & Advocacy Manager Caitlin Boswell said, “Most of us are caring people who want to see people who’ve escaped danger treated with compassion. But this government’s Rwanda plan flies in the face of this basic humanity, and means people who’ve fled violence – including children, modern slavery and torture survivors – can be forcibly expelled thousands of miles away, and placed at grave risk of harm. No one should be sent away against their will - not to Rwanda, or anywhere. Though parliament might back this shameful and senseless act of performative cruelty, we know most people don’t, and that’s why so many of us will continue to stand up for people’s right to safety, regardless of skin colour or where we were born.”


Akiko Hart, Director of Liberty, told Huck, “Everyone has the right to live in safety, free from persecution, and with dignity – but this disgraceful Bill rips apart the basic principles of our human rights protection. Not only does this Bill put the lives and livelihoods of refugees at risk, but it also makes it nearly impossible for the courts to do their job and to scrutinise the actions of the Government. Checks and balances are a vital part of our democracy.

“The Bill is a brazen attempt to score political points, with no regard for the harm it inflicts on those it affects. If the Government can snatch away rights from any section of society, this places everyone’s rights at risk. We must stand against the Government’s efforts to attack our rights through this Bill.

Freedom from Torture

Kolbassia Haoussou, Director of Survivor Leadership and Influencing at Freedom from Torture, told us, “We all deserve the chance to live a safe life, and to seek protection when we need it most. When I fled torture in my homeland, the UK granted me sanctuary and a chance to rebuild my life. But now, people like me could be sped onto planes to face an unsafe future in Rwanda, and denied the safety and security needed for their recovery.

“We know from the work we do in our therapy rooms everyday how terrified survivors are, and we’ve seen first-hand the awful toll it has taken on people’s mental health. We urgently need the UK Government to start treating refugees with decency and stop trying to send them thousands of miles away.

“Survivors have been at the forefront of campaigns urging the Government to change direction. And we’re not going to stop now. I hope that people who think the UK should help those fleeing war and torture will support us and join the growing movement calling for an asylum system that is humane and compassionate. And treats people in a way we can be proud of.”

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