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Labour Calls Rwanda Plan "Unworkable, Unethical And Extremely Expensive" After High Court Ruling

Home Secretary Suella Braverman pictured in December 2022

4 min read

Labour has accused the government of formulating an “unworkable, unethical, extremely expensive” plan, after the High Court ruled that proposals to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda is lawful.

Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper told the Commons that the court’s ruling on Monday morning was a “damning indictment” of the Home Office. She accused her counterpart Suella Braverman and her department of “chasing headlines” and being distracted from “the serious hard work to tackle the gangs and sort out the asylum system”. 

Braverman argued that “we need to break the business model of people smuggling gangs” as she said that people “do not want open borders” in the UK. 

Earlier on Monday, the High Court ruled that the plans, first announced in April, did not breach the UN’s Refugee Convention or human rights rules. 

However, the court has also ruled that the individual cases of eight asylum seekers, who were originally due to be deported to Rwanda earlier this year, will have to be reconsidered.

Speaking in the House of Commons this afternoon, Cooper said: “The government has failed to stop criminal gangs putting lives at risk and proliferating along our borders. 

“They failed to prosecute or convict the gang members and failed to take basic asylum decisions which are down by 14 per cent in the last six years. And instead of sorting those problems out, they have put forward an unworkable, unethical, extremely expensive Rwanda plan, which risks making trafficking worse.

“The Home Secretary describes today's court judgement as a vindication. I have to wonder whether she has read it.” 

Cooper was responding to Braverman’s Commons statement on the ruling, where she told MPs that the country does not “have infinite capacity” and praised the Rwanda deal as “not a punishment, but an innovative way of addressing a major problem”. 

“Already we are struggling to accommodate new arrivals, meaning we spend millions every day in hotel bills alone. 

“We cannot tolerate people coming here illegally. 

“It is not legitimate to leave a safe country like France to seek asylum in the United Kingdom. And we have to break the business model of the people smuggling gangs. Their trade in human cargo is evil and lethal.”

Their comments came after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak “welcomed” the decision from the High Court. 

“This is just one part of our plan to tackle illegal migration,” he told broadcasters while on a visit to Latvia today.  

“It’s not going to be easy and we’re not going to do it overnight but I’m confident with the steps laid out last week we really can get to grips with illegal migration.” 

The challenges to the policy in court were brought by charities and asylum seekers who argued that the plans were unlawful at a five-day hearing in September. 

In April, then-home secretary Priti Patel had announced the agreement with the east African nation that would see some people deported to the country, in an attempt to deter migrants from crossing the English Channel. 

The Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) and charities Care4Calais and Detention Action are among those who have argued in the court that the plans are unlawful, telling judges that Rwanda is an “authoritarian state” that “tortures and murders those it considers to be its opponents”.

The Rwandan government has said it only has the capacity to process 200 people a year – only 0.5 per cent of Channel crossings in 2022.

It is expected that those who brought the legal challenge forward will ask for the case to be heard by the Court of Appeal, further delaying the government's plans. 


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