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Rwanda Bill Frustration As House Of Lords Inflicts Seven Defeats On Rishi Sunak

The House of Lords (left) and Rwandan minister of foreign affairs Vincent Biruta and UK home secretary James Cleverly signing a new treaty in Kigali, Rwanda in December.
The House of Lords (left) and Rwandan minister of foreign affairs Vincent Biruta and UK home secretary James Cleverly signing a new treaty in Kigali, Rwanda in December.AP

The government is facing more frustration over its controversial plan to send asylum seekers on a one-way trip to Rwanda after the House of Lords inflicted more damage on its flagship legislation.

In the latest set of parliamentary “ping-pong”, peers on Wednesday inserted seven amendments to the Safety of Rwanda Bill in an effort to water down the policy.

It comes after MPs earlier this week removed 10 changes to the bill previously made by the Lords, undermining Rishi Sunak’s hopes to get deportation flights off the ground in the spring.

The defeats mean the legislation is now not likely to pass until after Easter.

The bill, which aims to overcome the Supreme Court’s block on the Rwanda flights, is almost certain to eventually prevail because the unelected Lords can’t overrule elected MPs. But it’s unclear how long the game of “ping-pong” will continue.

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.

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