Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has refuted any doubts regarding the government’s Rwanda policy during his time as chancellor.
According to documents viewed by the BBC, it appears that in March 2022, Mr. Sunak expressed reservations about the expenses associated with transporting migrants to the African nation.
The documents also suggest that he had doubts about the effectiveness of the plan in preventing individuals from attempting to cross the English Channel.
In an interview with BBC One’s Laura Kuenssberg on Sunday, Mr Sunak emphasised his thorough examination of all plans during his time as chancellor.
Nevertheless, he clarified that his support for the Rwanda policy remained unwavering, highlighting his financial contributions to the plan.
“Even if someone is posing challenging inquiries, it doesn’t imply that they lack faith in the proposition,” he stated.
As part of the programme, certain migrants may be relocated to Rwanda for processing and potential resettlement.
The government has put forth the argument that this measure would serve as a deterrent for individuals attempting to reach the UK via small boats.
The scheme was initially unveiled in April 2022 during Boris Johnson’s tenure as prime minister.
Unfortunately, it has encountered legal challenges, as the Supreme Court deemed it unlawful last year.
The BBC has obtained documents from No 10 that were prepared in March 2022, during the time when former PM Boris Johnson was attempting to convince Mr. Sunak to approve funding for the plan.
Reports highlight a notable divergence of opinion between the residences of No 10 and 11 Downing Street regarding the efficacy of the proposed scheme, with the chancellor expressing scepticism about its effectiveness.
In addition, it has been disclosed that No 10 suggested urging Mr Sunak to “evaluate his support among the core supporters” if he hesitated to endorse modifications to the migration system, which encompassed the Rwanda proposal.
Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary of the Labour party, expressed her concerns about the credibility of the Tories’ Rwanda plan and criticised Rishi Sunak for his perceived weakness.
“He was well aware of the exorbitant costs and strongly opposed them during his time as chancellor.” However, he has become incredibly feeble to the point where he is writing £400m checks to Rwanda without anyone being sent.
When questioned about the documents, Mr. Sunak emphasised that he thoroughly scrutinised every proposal that came his way. However, he clarified that it would be incorrect to assume that he does not support the principle of deterrence.
According to him, his actions speak for themselves, and as the prime minister, he is actively working on passing legislation to implement the Rwanda policy.
A new legislation has been introduced to address the concerns raised by the Supreme Court. According to this law, Rwanda is now deemed a safe country under UK law.
Nevertheless, Mr Sunak encountered criticism from members of his party on both sides of the spectrum. Some contended that it would violate international law, while others expressed concerns that it would not be sufficiently comprehensive.
Following the announcement of the Safety of Rwanda Bill, Robert Jenrick resigned from his position as immigration minister, characterising the legislation as a “triumph of hope over experience.” Similarly, Suella Braverman, who was dismissed as home secretary by Mr. Sunak, expressed her belief that the bill was “destined to fail.”
The bill successfully cleared its initial hurdle in the House of Commons, garnering a significant majority. However, Mr. Sunak will undoubtedly encounter challenges as he strives to navigate it through Parliament upon its return in the upcoming weeks.