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Rishi Sunak’s Rwanda plan for migrants fails first test in House of Lords

LONDON: Four days ago, UK PM Rishi Sunak urged the House of Lords, the unelected upper chamber of parliament, not to block his plans to put asylum-seekers on one-way flights to Rwanda, describing his contentious migration policy as “the will of the people.” On Monday night, the Lords did not play ball. Instead, they voted to delay the crucial treaty with Rwanda that underpins Sunak’s legislation — underscoring the hostility among some members of the chamber to a policy that has proved divisive since it was introduced by ex-PM Boris Johnson in 2022.
The vote has limited impact because the House of Lords — a legislature largely made up of former politicians, civil servants and diplomats, as well as 26 bishops — does not have the power to prevent the treaty from coming into force. But it is a symbolic setback for Sunak and suggests that the Lords may try to amend the broader legislation, the so-called safety of Rwanda bill, which they are to start debating next week.
TheRwanda plan would mean that anyone arriving by small boat or other “irregular means” could not claim asylum in Britain. Instead, those asylum-seekers would be detained and then sent to Rwanda. Their asylum cases would be heard in the African country, and they would be resettled there. By threatening with deportation, Sunak hopes to deter people from making the dangerous crossing of the English Channel.

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