Peers and MPs ‘will sit and vote’ until Rwanda Bill passed, says Sunak

Rishi Sunak avoided questions on whether deportation flights would start in the spring
Rishi Sunak avoided questions on whether deportation flights would start in the spring - Yui Mok/PA

Rishi Sunak has warned the House of Lords and MPs that they will “sit and vote” on Monday until his Rwanda Bill is passed into law.

The Prime Minister said there would be “no more delays” following votes by the House of Lords to block the legislation four times and send the Bill back to the Commons.

The parliamentary ping-pong over the Safety of Rwanda Bill has spanned nearly three weeks, starting just before the two-week Easter recess.

It threatens to equal the record of five rounds of to-ing and fro-ing between the two Houses with Labour’s Prevention of Terrorism Act in the early 2000s.

Avoiding questions on whether the flights would start in the spring, Mr Sunak said: “The very simple thing here is that, repeatedly, everyone has tried to block us from getting this Bill through.

“Yet again, you saw it this week. You saw Labour peers blocking us again, and that’s enormously frustrating. Everyone’s patience with this has run thin – mine certainly has.

“So our intention now is to get this done on Monday. No more prevarication, no more delay. We will sit there and vote until it’s done. We’re going to get this Bill passed, and then we will work to get flights off so we can build that deterrent, because that is the only way to resolve this issue.”

The source of the standoff has been boiled down to two amendments: demanding an exemption from deportation for Afghans who worked with the UK military and tighter checks on whether Rwanda remains safe for asylum seekers.

The Bill will return to the Commons on Monday afternoon, where MPs will reverse the amendments and send it back to the Lords.

On Thursday, Downing Street indicated that the Prime Minister would not be making any concessions on changes to the legislation requested by the Lords.

The proposal to exempt Afghan staff who worked with the British has gained the biggest majorities in the Lords, of over 50 votes. It has been backed by three former chiefs of the defence staff as well as a former chief of the general staff and one from the naval staff.

Mr Sunak’s spokesman said: “The amendment is unnecessary – we already have safe and legal routes for people in this category. It’s one of the most generous safe and legal routes that we have in fact. We are proud that we have relocated over 16,000 people to safety through the scheme so far.”

Mr Sunak has consistently said that he wants the deportation flights to Rwanda to get going in the spring, but migrants earmarked for the first flights cannot be notified until the Bill gains Royal Assent. There is then a legal appeal process required by law for the migrants that is scheduled to take four to eight weeks.

The Prime Minister is expected to hold a press conference on Tuesday, setting out the plans for getting the flights off to Rwanda, if and when the Bill is passed on Monday.