Tag Archives: rwanda bill

Welcome to my day: 5 February 2024

February already, eh? And, with a May General Election seemingly less likely – would you really go to the country twenty points behind in the polls? – and the Government apparently focussed on nothing more than sabotaging an incoming Labour administration, it’s going to be a long Spring and Summer of misdirection and guesswork. For example, the Lords February recess, which is usually just over a week, has been shortened to a long weekend. Does that suggest an attempt to clear the legislative “decks” in anticipation of a May election, or does it simply reflect the fact that Peers are doing their job of scrutiny in a way that the Conservatives hadn’t calculated? At least my timeline is full of campaigning Liberal Democrats, which is always reassuring.

Rwanda, and Labour’s quest not to be controversial

A Bill which breaks international law, is opposed by the legal profession, human rights activists and which wasn’t in the 2019 Conservative manifesto? If ever there was a justification to vote a Bill down at Second Reading, this was it, yet Labour Whips in the Lords instructed their benches to stay away. And, whilst eight Labour peers did break ranks to support the Liberal Democrat motion to vote down the Bill, it was left to sixty-seven Liberal Democrat peers to provide the overwhelming bulk of the opposition. And yes, it will doubtless be claimed by Labour that they will seek to amend the Bill at later stages but how do you amend a Bill whose fundamental premise is illegal under international law?

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The Tories start on the authoritarian road

This week marked a bleak precedent for the UK. On Wednesday, the government passed a bill that begins the erosion of the independence of our courts, goes against the European Convention of Human Rights and puts the civil service in an impossible position, not to mention the £400 million of potential money to be sent to Rwanda, when 320 Tory MPs voted in favour of the ‘Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill’.

Posted in Op-eds | 9 Comments

18 January 2024 – today’s press releases

  • Sunak press conference: Out of touch and out of ideas
  • UK Stats Authority criticises Sunak over asylum backlog claim
  • “The Tories have failed Port Talbot” – Welsh Lib Dems

Sunak press conference: Out of touch and out of ideas

Responding to Rishi Sunak’s press conference on the Conservative government’s Rwanda policy, Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey said:

This Conservative government crashed the economy, sent mortgage rates spiralling and has made it almost impossible to see a GP.

Instead of tackling these major challenges, Rishi Sunak’s government is too busy fighting over an unworkable and expensive policy that is destined to fail.

It just confirms how desperately out

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Lib Dems oppose “moral vacuum” Rwanda Bill

When there has been so much discussion around the party’s messaging and whether it showcases our values enough recently, it is a relief to see our parliamentarians speak out so strongly against the bizarrely named Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill as though just writing something down makes it so.

Alistair Carmichael described the Bill as showing a “grim and illiberal mentality” and would replace our asylum system with a moral vacuum. Here’s his whole speech:

I say sincerely that it is a genuine pleasure to follow the right hon. and learned Member for South Swindon (Sir Robert Buckland). He gave a characteristically thoughtful speech for Second Reading and, more interestingly, laid down several markers for future stages, should we get to that point. This is a most interesting and unusual Second Reading debate; we are seeing played out in front of us a tripartite discussion between one side of the Government, another side of the Government and the Treasury Bench. It is a remarkable spectacle to observe, albeit not a particularly seemly one.

I was struck by the reliance that the hon. Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Sir Robert Neill) placed on the references made by the right hon. and learned Member for Torridge and West Devon (Sir Geoffrey Cox) to proceedings in relation to the Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants, etc. ) Act 2004. As the right hon. and learned Gentleman observed, that was where the concept of safe countries was introduced. The list of safe countries included all the EU countries except Croatia, plus Norway, Iceland and later Switzerland. It was another piece of legislation that restricted the access of rights to appeal for those whose asylum claims had been unsuccessful. There are perhaps lessons to be learned for us all in how that line of legislation has developed ever since.

The enduring lesson I take is not that that Act was introduced by a Labour Government—a Government that had David Blunkett as Home Secretary—but that the Bill was opposed, with some controversy at the time, by the then Conservative Opposition. They described it as “clumsy and draconian”. They were absolutely right about that and, many years later, we can see exactly where that sort of legislation has taken us. What is it about the Conservative party of 2023 that now finds that sort of legislation so attractive?

Let us not forget that we are dealing with the consequence of the refusal of this Government to prosecute the case for safe and legal routes. Why do we not find people from Ukraine or Hong Kong trying to cross the channel in small boats? It is because we offer them safe and legal routes. The Rwanda scheme is unworkable—we know that because it has never been made to work—and the barriers are well rehearsed, but every time they are thwarted, the response of this Government is to throw a foot-stamping tantrum. Anyone who ever had any doubt about the depth and scale of Tory self-entitlement can see it laid bare here today. The Bill is not about making the system work or providing an effective deterrent; it is simply about trying to bring together a disparate range of forces within their own party.

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