gtag('config', 'UA-12595121-1'); British Prime Minister Keir Starmer Announces Termination of Tory Bizarre Rwanda Asylum Plan – The Zimbabwe Mail

British Prime Minister Keir Starmer Announces Termination of Tory Bizarre Rwanda Asylum Plan

British Prime Minister Keir Starmer delivers a speech, following his first cabinet meeting as Prime Minister, in London, Britain, July 6, 2024. REUTERS/Claudia Greco/Pool
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LONDON,- In his first major policy announcement since securing a landslide victory, Britain’s newly elected Prime Minister Keir Starmer declared on Saturday that he would abolish the contentious plan to transport thousands of asylum seekers from Britain to Rwanda.

The scheme, introduced by the previous Conservative government in 2022, aimed to deter asylum seekers from arriving in Britain via small boats by relocating them to the East African nation. Despite the bold initiative, legal challenges prevented any asylum seekers from being sent to Rwanda.

At his inaugural press conference as Prime Minister, Starmer criticized the Rwanda policy, citing its ineffectiveness and limited scope, as it would have affected only about 1% of asylum seekers. “The Rwanda scheme was dead and buried before it started. It’s never been a deterrent,” Starmer stated. “I’m not prepared to continue with gimmicks that don’t act as a deterrent.”

Starmer’s victory has given him one of the largest parliamentary majorities in modern British history, positioning him as the most powerful British leader since former Prime Minister Tony Blair. Despite this strong mandate, he faces significant challenges, including improving public services and reviving the economy.

During the Downing Street press conference, Starmer addressed various questions about his plans to address the nation’s issues, though he provided few specific details. He emphasized the need for early and tough decision-making, particularly in areas such as the overcrowded prison system and the lengthy waiting times for the state-run health service.

“We’re going to have to take the tough decisions and take them early, and we will. We will do that with a raw honesty,” he said. However, he was cautious about discussing potential tax increases, stating, “That is not a sort of prelude to saying there’s some tax decision that we didn’t speak about before.”

Starmer also announced the establishment of “mission delivery boards,” which he will chair, to focus on priority areas such as healthcare and economic growth.

The Rwanda asylum policy was a major issue during the six-week election campaign. While proponents argued it would dismantle the people trafficking model, critics labeled it as immoral and unfeasible. Last November, the UK Supreme Court deemed the policy unlawful, stating Rwanda could not be considered a safe third country. In response, ministers signed a new treaty with Rwanda and passed legislation to override the court’s decision, but these moves faced ongoing legal challenges from charities and unions.

The British government had already invested hundreds of millions of pounds in Rwanda to establish accommodation and hire officials to process the asylum seekers, funds that cannot be recovered.

Starmer proposed an alternative approach by creating a Border Security Command. This unit would consolidate staff from the police, domestic intelligence agency, and prosecutors, working with international agencies to combat people smuggling.

Sonya Sceats, CEO of Freedom from Torture, praised Starmer’s decision. “We applaud Keir Starmer for moving immediately to close the door on this shameful scheme that played politics with the lives of people fleeing torture and persecution,” she said.

With this decisive move, Starmer has set a clear departure from the previous administration’s controversial immigration policies, focusing instead on comprehensive and collaborative solutions to address the complex issue of asylum seekers.


Source: Reuters