Boris Johnson provokes fury with plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda – UK politics live | Politics | #socialmedia


05:23
Boris Johnson inspecting a drone during a visit to Lydd airport in Kent this morning, ahead of his speech on tackling illegal immigration. Photograph: Gareth Fuller/PA
05:20

What Labour would do about people crossing Channel in small boats

Lucy Powell, the shadow culture secretary, was doing interviews on behalf of Labour this morning and, on the Today programme, was challenged as to what Labour would do to stop people crossing the Channel in small boats, risking their lives, to seek asylum in the UK. She replied:

We’ve put forward proposals to make it more difficult for smuggler gangs to advertise online on social media, which is partly how they do it.

We think there should be safe and legal routes that people need for family reunions and so on, so that they don’t have to arrive through these illegal routes in order to make their asylum claims.

We think the Home Office needs to get a grip of the decision-making process – asylum decisions are now incredibly slow – not just months, but years.

We’ve got some of the slowest decision-making in Europe, and crucially, we haven’t got these return agreements.

So even though I think around about two-thirds of the asylum cases of those that come across the Channel are in fact granted, the third that aren’t granted can’t be returned.

05:15

Tory MP Tobias Ellwood restates call for PM to quit, saying replacing PM would not harm Ukraine policy

Tobias Ellwood, the Conservative MP who chairs the Commons defence committee, has restated his call for Boris Johnson to quit. “How can a lawmaker also be a law breaker? This is not a good look,” he told the Today programme.

Ellwood also dismissed claims made by many of his colleagues that it would be wrong to replace the prime minister while the war in Ukraine continues. He explained:

There’s not going to be a lull in the fighting, no pause just around the corner, for us to take stock of domestic matters.

Every month, every year, European security is going to deteriorate well beyond Ukraine, and history anyway shows that we can and do replace leaders in times of crisis.

We did in fact replace the head of the armed forces just as recently as December, as Russian troops were amassing, with an admiral with no combat experience.

But critically, our formidable government apparatus, our well-oiled MoD machine, allows us to do just that – to replace people if that is required.

Our approach to Ukraine would remain consistent, so I do hope that we won’t use the war as a fig leaf to dodge these tough questions that, absolutely, we must address.

Ellwood also repeated the proposal he first made in February that Johnson should voluntarily trigger a vote of confidence in his position. He said:

I think the prime minister has made his intentions clear – he wants to stay – but this is this is bigger than the prime minister.

It’s about the reputation of the party for which all colleagues must defend, and I believe he owes it to the parliamentary party, once the reports have concluded and the local elections have allowed the public view to be factored in, to agree to hold his own vote of confidence if those elections go badly.

Tobias Ellwood.
Tobias Ellwood. Photograph: Tayfun Salcı/ZUMA Press Wire/REX/Shutterstock
05:03

NHS England hospital waiting list reaches 6.2m – new record high

The number of people in England waiting to start routine hospital treatment has risen to a new record, PA Media reports. A total of 6.2 million people were waiting to start treatment at the end of February, NHS England said. This is up from 6.1 million in January and is the highest number since records began in August 2007.

This is from Wes Streeting, the shadow health secretary.

NEW: NHS waiting lists have risen to a new record high of 6.2 million.

Taxes are rising and so are waiting lists. The cost of living crisis will add to NHS pressures.

Boris Johnson and the Conservatives are incapable of the showing the leadership necessary to sort this out.

— Wes Streeting MP (@wesstreeting) April 14, 2022

04:42

Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, has described the plan to send people seeking asylum in the UK to Rwanda as “despicable”.

A despicable policy on its own terms. But add the fact that it’s being set out today to distract from #partygate and you see the utter moral bankruptcy of this Tory government laid bare. Shameful. https://t.co/PA182aERbK

— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) April 14, 2022

04:38

Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary, says an Australian plan for offshoring refugees, similar to the one being announced by Boris Johnson, cost £1.7m per person.

Priti Patel’s Rwanda plan is extortionate as well as unworkable & unethical.

Australian Refugee Council offshoring figs show 3127 people were sent to Papua New Guinea/ Nauru since 2013 at cost to Australian taxpayer of AUS$10bn.

That’s £1.7m per personhttps://t.co/UD2XJcZcxC

— Yvette Cooper (@YvetteCooperMP) April 14, 2022

04:36

Johnson claims he wants UK to have ‘world-leading asylum offer’

In his speech today Boris Johnson will explicitly link today’s policy announcement with Brexit, saying it is about taking back control of illegal immigration. According to extracts released overnight, he will say:

We cannot sustain a parallel illegal system. Our compassion may be infinite, but our capacity to help people is not.

The British people voted several times to control our borders, not to close them, but to control them.

So just as Brexit allowed us to take back control of legal immigration by replacing free movement with our points-based system, we are also taking back control of illegal immigration, with a long-term plan for asylum in this country.

It is a plan that will ensure the UK has a world-leading asylum offer, providing generous protection to those directly fleeing the worst of humanity, by settling thousands of people every year through safe and legal routes.

Johnson is fond of describing government initiatives as world-leading, or world-beating, even though in the past these boasts have sometimes been absurdly misleading.

In his speech Johnson will also say the government needs to act to stop the Channel being a “watery graveyard”. He will say:

Before Christmas 27 people drowned, and in the weeks ahead there may be many more losing their lives at sea, and whose bodies may never be recovered.

Around 600 came across the Channel yesterday. In just a few weeks this could again reach a thousand a day.

I accept that these people – whether 600 or one thousand – are in search of a better life; the opportunities that the United Kingdom provides and the hope of a fresh start.

But it is these hopes – these dreams – that have been exploited. These vile people smugglers are abusing the vulnerable and turning the Channel into a watery graveyard, with men, women and children drowning in unseaworthy boats and suffocating in refrigerated lorries.

04:25

Human rights groups and organisations that support refugees have strongly criticised the government’s Rwanda plan. In our overnight story we quote Enver Solomon, chief executive of the Refugee Council, saying the government is “choosing control and punishment above compassion”.

This is from Steve Valdez-Symonds, Amnesty International UK’s refugee and migrant rights director:

Sending people to another country – let alone one with such a dismal human rights record – for asylum ‘processing’ is the very height of irresponsibility and shows how far removed from humanity and reality the government now is on asylum issues.

The government is already wrecking our asylum system at huge cost to the taxpayer while causing terrible anxiety to the people stuck in the backlogs it has created.

But this shockingly ill-conceived idea will go far further in inflicting suffering while wasting huge amounts of public money.

And this is from Tim Naor Hilton, chief executive of Refugee Action:

This grubby cash-for-people plan would be a cowardly, barbaric and inhumane way to treat people fleeing persecution and war.

Ministers seem too keen to ignore the reality that most people who cross the Channel in flimsy boats are refugees from countries where persecution and war are rife and who just want to live in safety.

04:11

Boris Johnson provokes fury with plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda

Good morning. Boris Johnson campaigned for Brexit on the grounds that it would allow the UK to “take back control” of its immigration arrangements. But the government’s failure to stop people crossing the Channel in small boats to claim asylum (almost 30,000 last year) has made a mockery of that, and today Johnson is going to announce a new approach that will make government policy in this area more hardline than it has been for decades.

The government is going to sign a deal with Rwanda for it to take some of the people crossing the Channel in the hope of settling in Britain. Instead they will be flown 4,500 miles away to Africa. Full details of the plan have not yet been revealed, but it seems the policy will apply to single men. Some reports have said they will be taken to Rwanda to have their asylum applications processed, but Mark Easton, the BBC’s home affairs editor, told Radio 4’s Today programme within the last hour that it would be a “one-way ticket” for people who would be settled in Rwanda.

Here is our overnight story on the plan.

Johnson will set out the details in a speech this morning. And Priti Patel, the home secretary, is in Rwanda, where she will brief journalists later. She put this on Twitter last night.

Johnson won the Brexit campaign largely on the issue of immigration and, although Channel crossings are a matter of public concern, there is undoubtedly a political element behind this; in the past the evidence has shown that voters support draconian migration policies, and Johnson is pushing policy into territory that Labour cannot match. If he wanted to provoke a fierce reaction, that is what he has achieved.

This is what Yvette Coooper, the shadow home secretary, said about the plan last night.

Desperate & truly shameful announcement from Govt tonight as an attempt to distract from Boris Johnson’s lawbreaking.

Unworkable, unethical & extortionate. https://t.co/FdWx4fafEV

— Yvette Cooper (@YvetteCooperMP) April 13, 2022

And this is what Ian Blackford, the SNP leader at Westminster, said about it on the Today programme this morning.

It’s just chilling, absolutely chilling, to think that people who 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 that our government acting in our name can behave in such a way, and I think a lot of people are going to be quite aghast.

I will be focusing on this story for most of the day. But here is the agenda.

9.30am: NHS England publishes its latest hospital waiting figures.

10.25am: Boris Johnson gives a speech on tackling illegal immigration.

12pm: The ONS publishes its weekly coronavirus infection survey. (It is normally out on Friday, but tomorrow is a bank holiday.)

Afternoon: Priti Patel is due to hold a press briefing in Rwanda.

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