British PM Sunak's Rwanda scheme set to pass parliament but challenges await

Rishi Sunak, British Prime Minister

© APA | Rishi Sunak, British Prime Minister

# 15 April 2024 10:22 (UTC +04:00)

The British parliament is set to finally approve a divisive law this week to pave the way for asylum seekers to be deported to Rwanda, but further legal hurdles could yet hold up or derail one of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's key policies, APA reports citing Reuters.

Sunak has invested huge political capital in the Rwanda scheme whose success or failure might be crucial to his Conservative party's fortunes in an upcoming election, given his promise it will stop tens of thousands of people arriving without permission in small boats across the Channel.

The new legislation is poised to get lawmakers' approval, unamended, by the end of the week. But whether the Rwanda scheme does finally get off the ground by the middle of the year as Sunak has promised remains far from certain.

"In our view, the legislation is utterly performative," said Paul O’Connell from the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union which has previously brought lawsuits over the policy and is preparing further action.

"We think the government knows it hasn’t got a cat in hells chance of surviving a legal challenge, but they just want to keep it alive as an issue to fight in the general election."

Under the policy formulated two years ago, any asylum seekers who arrive illegally in Britain will be sent to the East African nation, in a bid to deter dangerous cross-channel crossings in small boats and smash the people smugglers' business model.

The first planned deportation flight in June 2022 was blocked by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), before the UK Supreme Court last year declared the scheme unlawful.

Sunak's new law, which disapplies some existing human rights statutes, is designed to override the Supreme Court's ruling by stating Rwanda must be treated by British judges as a safe destination, as well as also limiting individuals' options for an appeal to only exceptional cases.

For critics, ranging from senior figures in his own party to the Archbishop of Canterbury, the policy is immoral, unworkable and probably breaches international law. But, some right-wing Conservative lawmakers say it won't work because it is still not tough enough.

After months of parliamentary battles, the government is likely to finally win backing from the House of Commons and House of Lords in votes on Monday and Wednesday.