British MPs approve bill to deport migrants to Rwanda

Michael Tomlinson KC, speaks in the House of Commons during the debate of the Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill prior to a second reading vote, in London, Tuesday, Dec. 12 2023. U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is trying to cajole recalcitrant lawmakers into supporting his signature immigration policy in a key vote in Parliament. Defeat would leave his authority shredded and his government teetering. (UK Parliament via AP)

The British government’s controversial bill to deport migrants who have arrived illegally in the UK to Rwanda cleared the first hurdle in Parliament on Tuesday evening (December 12). The text recognizes the safety of Rwanda and therefore allows asylum seekers to be sent there to circumvent invalidation by the courts.
After almost seven hours of debate, the bill was approved by 313 votes in favor (269 against) in the House of Commons. The Rwanda bill thus passes the first stage of parliamentary scrutiny.
“We will now work” to ensure that this text “becomes law so that we can get flights to Rwanda off the ground and stop the boats” of migrants crossing the Channel, reacted the head of the Conservative government on the social network X (ex-Twitter).
The vote looked set to be a close one. The government even rushed its Environment Minister back from COP28 in Dubai. The right wing of the Conservative Party wanted to go further, as did Danny Kruger during the debate. “I’m sorry, but this text is not satisfactory. I can’t support it, and I would have hoped that the government would withdraw it so that we could work on finding a compromise that respects parliamentary sovereignty. The proposal still allows for appeals, and we fear that the courts will become clogged.”
Ultimately, the ultraconservative factions hope to amend the text in committee. The next readings promise to be just as complicated for the government.