Rwanda policy ‘unworkable and morally repugnant’ – Yousaf

Scotland’s First Minister has described the UK Government’s newly-passed Rwanda Bill as “unworkable and morally repugnant” after five people died just hours after its passage.

Following a late sitting of Parliament and a wrangle between the Commons and the House of Lords, the Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration Bill) was passed into law, deeming the African country an appropriate place to send some asylum seekers.

The Prime Minister said this week charter planes are expected to leave in 10-12 weeks, with “multiple flights a month” due to depart the UK.

Humza Yousaf told journalists he would “hope to resist” attempts for planes to take off from Scottish airfields, though it is not clear if this is likely.

Speaking at the opening of a new JP Morgan office in Glasgow, Mr Yousaf hit out at the policy.

“It’s unworkable and it’s morally repugnant,” he said.

Humza Yousaf
Humza Yousaf spoke to journalists on Tuesday (Andrew Milligan/PA)

“It’s a further demonstration of how the values of Westminster are not Scotland’s values.”

Mr Yousaf went on to say the deaths of three men, a woman and a girl during a crossing of the Channel on Tuesday shows “what we need is not unworkable legislation like the Rwanda Bill”.

He added: “What you need to do is to create safe, legal routes for migration and that hopefully deters the illegal migration that none of us, of any political party. want to see.”

Asked how he would react to the use of airstrips north of the border to take asylum seekers to Rwanda, the First Minister said: “I would hope to resist that, if it was possible to do so.

“We should be a country, as we have been for not just years but for decades, that ensures that we give sanctuary to those that are fleeing persecution, war, extreme poverty.”

He added the UK has “benefited from migration for many, many years”.

Speaking to journalists as he made his way to Poland, Rishi Sunak said the tragedy in the Channel on Tuesday morning shows the need for a deterrent to stop people attempting the treacherous crossings.

He said: “We want to prevent people making these very dangerous crossings. If you look at what’s happening, criminal gangs are exploiting vulnerable people. They are packing more and more people into these unseaworthy dinghies.

“We’ve seen an enormous increase in the numbers per boat over the past few years.

“This is what tragically happens when they push people out to sea and that’s why, for matters of compassion more than anything else, we must actually break this business model and end this unfairness of people coming to our country illegally.”

Meanwhile, Home Secretary James Cleverley posted on X, formerly Twitter, that “these tragedies have to stop”.

He added: “I will not accept a status quo which costs so many lives.

“This Government is doing everything we can to end this trade, stop the boats and ultimately break the business model of the evil people smuggling gangs, so they no longer put lives at risk.”