MPs Reverse Lords Amendments To Rwanda Deportation Bill

Home Secretary James Cleverly and Rwandan Minister of Foreign Affairs Vincent Biruta shake hands at bilateral meeting after they signed a new treaty in Kigali, Rwanda, Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2023. The treaty will address concerns by the Supreme Court, including assurances that Rwanda will not remove anybody transferred under the partnership to another country. (Ben Birchall/PA Wire via AP)

MPs have reversed all 10 amendments to Rishi Sunak’s flagship Rwanda legislation – setting up a showdown with the House of Lords over the controversial plan to send asylum seekers on a one-way trip to the east African country.

Using its comfortable Commons majority, the Tory government unpicked changes made to the Safety of Rwanda Bill by the Lords.

Peers inserted a series of amendments designed to water down the legislation, but all 10 were removed by MPs during votes in the Commons on Monday night.

The bill, which aims to overcome the Supreme Court’s block on deportation flights, will return to the Lords on Wednesday as part of the game of parliamentary “ping-pong”.

The government is almost certain to prevail because the unelected Lords can’t overrule elected MPs, and the bill could be passed into law within days.

The prime minister hopes that the first deportation flights will take off in the spring.

Britain and Rwanda signed a deal almost two years ago that would see migrants who cross the English Channel in small boats sent to the East African country, where they would remain permanently. So far, no migrant has been sent to Rwanda under the agreement.

The plan is key to Sunak’s pledge to “stop the boats” bringing unauthorised migrants to the UK. He argues that deporting asylum seekers will deter people from making risky journeys and break the business model of people-smuggling gangs.

Just under 30,000 people arrived in Britain in small boats in 2023.

“We need to make it clear that if you come here illegally, you won’t be able to stay and we will be able to remove you. That is the only way to properly solve the issue of illegal migration,” Sunak told reporters on Monday.