'Cruel, shameful & timed to distract from partygate'
In a desperate attempt to move the conversation on from partygate and the law-breaking and criminality at the heart of the government, the Tories have decided to unveil a plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda for processing.
Later today, Boris Johnson is expected to announce a deal signed with the Rwandan government that is expected to see some people arriving in Britain from across the Channel flown 4,000 miles away to have their asylum claims processed.
Home Secretary Priti Patel is in Rwanda where she will hold a press conference with the country’s foreign minister this afternoon.
The government is facing a furious backlash from human rights organisations, opposition MPs as well as refugee charities.
Enver Solomon, chief executive of the Refugee Council, urged the government to “immediately rethink its plans”, saying: “We are appalled by the government’s cruel and nasty decision to send those seeking sanctuary in our country to Rwanda.
“Offshoring the UK’s asylum system will do absolutely nothing to address the reasons why people take perilous journeys to find safety in the UK.”
The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants tweeted: “The UK should play its part in welcoming refugees – but this govt have failed Ukrainians fleeing, they’ve failed Afghans fleeing.
“And now they’re trying to send refugees to Rwanda – one of the poorest countries in the world.
“Cruel, shameful & timed to distract from partygate.”
Ian Blackford, Westminster leader of the Scottish National Party, told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme: “That we think people that are coming here for a whole host of reasons, vulnerable people are going to be taken all the way to Africa to be processed…This is not the mark of a civilised society. It’s evil, it just turns my stomach to see a Government acting in our name can behave in such a way and a lot of people are going to be quite aghast.”
The Rwandan government has also been condemned for its human rights record. According to Human Rights Watch’s latest assessment of the conduct of the Rwandan government: “Arbitrary detention, ill-treatment, and torture in official and unofficial detention facilities is commonplace, and fair trial standards are routinely flouted in many sensitive political cases, in which security-related charges are often used to prosecute prominent government critics. Arbitrary detention and mistreatment of street children, sex workers and petty vendors occurs widely.”
Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper tweeted last night: “Desperate & truly shameful announcement from Govt tonight as an attempt to distract from Boris Johnson’s lawbreaking. Unworkable, unethical & extortionate.”
Lib Dem Home Affairs spokesperson Alistair Carmichael added: “It takes some effort to be both inhumane and incompetent and yet that has become Boris Johnson and Priti Patel’s calling card. A plan that will do nothing to tackle the real issues, while treating vulnerable people cruelly and costing taxpayers through the nose.”
Basit Mahmood is editor of Left Foot Forward