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Priti Patel says preparation for next flight to Rwanda for asylum seekers ‘begins now’ – Daily Elevated News

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June 15, 2022

Priti Patel says preparation for next flight to Rwanda for asylum seekers ‘begins now’


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Downing Street has refused to rule out the UK withdrawing from the European convention on human rights to allow it to implement the Rwanda deportation policy more easily. At the post-PMQs briefing, asked if the UK could withdraw from the ECHR, the PM’s spokesperson said:

We are keeping all options on the table including any further legal reforms that may be necessary. We will look at all of the legislation and processes in this round.

This is more or less word for word what Boris Johnson said about this in a TV interview yesterday. But the significance of No 10 saying this now, when it has had almost 24 hours to prepare a line, is that it shows Downing Street is serious about floating this as an option. If Johnson thought he went too far yesterday, and wanted to downplay the prospects of the UK leaving the ECHR, the spokesperson could easily have given a briefing stressing this was most unlikely.

(And, realistically, ECHR withdrawal is unlikely. The Good Friday agreement, which Johnson professes to support, is based on the UK remaining committed to the convention, and the UK eventually agreed to include ECHR commitments in its Brexit deal with the EU.)

The No 10 line also suggests that Guy Opperman and Thérèse Coffey, the two ministers who played down the prospect of the UK leaving the convention in interviews this morning (see 9.39am), were freelancing, not delivering a No 10 message.

In the Commons Barbara Keeley (Lab) says Patel did not reply to Yvette Cooper’s question about whether it was correct that it was the Home Office itself that decided to remove most of the asylum seekers from the flight scheduled to leave for Rwanda last night.

Patel says that, when lawyers made representations on behalf of asylum seekers, their names had to be taken off the list so that their cases could be looked at.

Downing Street has refused to rule out the UK withdrawing from the European convention on human rights to allow it to implement the Rwanda deportation policy more easily. At the post-PMQs briefing, asked if the UK could withdraw from the ECHR, the PM’s spokesperson said:

We are keeping all options on the table including any further legal reforms that may be necessary. We will look at all of the legislation and processes in this round.

This is more or less word for word what Boris Johnson said about this in a TV interview yesterday. But the significance of No 10 saying this now, when it has had almost 24 hours to prepare a line, is that it shows Downing Street is serious about floating this as an option. If Johnson thought he went too far yesterday, and wanted to downplay the prospects of the UK leaving the ECHR, the spokesperson could easily have given a briefing stressing this was most unlikely.

(And, realistically, ECHR withdrawal is unlikely. The Good Friday agreement, which Johnson professes to support, is based on the UK remaining committed to the convention, and the UK eventually agreed to include ECHR commitments in its Brexit deal with the EU.)

The No 10 line also suggests that Guy Opperman and Thérèse Coffey, the two ministers who played down the prospect of the UK leaving the convention in interviews this morning (see 9.39am), were freelancing, not delivering a No 10 message.

Natalie Elphicke, the Tory MP for Dover, says many of her constituents have been in touch with her to say they are concerned that the Rwanda flight was not able to go ahead.

Patel praises the people of Dover, saying they are on the front line in this issue.

Stuart C McDonald, the SNP spokesperson, says the government should not have tried to deport asylum seekers before the courts had decided if the policy was lawful.

She challenges Patel to say whether she agrees with what Boris Johnson once said about the European convention on human rights being a good thing.

Patel says the European court did not say the policy was unlawful.

She says the first ruling encouraged solictors to go back to the court to get more injunctions for other asylum seekers.

Sir Mike Penning (Con) says parliament is supreme. So how can it be right that the European court of human rights overruled the domestic courts?

Patel says the courts have not challenged the legality of the policy.

She says the “opaque nature” in which the appeal to the European court was conducted is “concerning”.

Patel is responding to Cooper.

She says Cooper was wrong to say no other country is doing anything like this. Denmark is looking at this policy, she says.

And she says Labour is happy to claim Rwanda is a suitable country of a summit. But it won’t accept that asylum seekers can be send there.

And she claims that Cooper was in the last Labour government, she did not complain about the government introducing powers to allow the removal of asylum seekers whose claims fail.

She also says Labour cannot logically accuse the policy of being unworkable and extortionately expensive.

Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary, says the policy has been a “shambles”.

She asks Patel to confirm that the Home Office decided to withdraw most of the cases at the last minute. That is why by yesterday only seven people were meant to be on the plane.

She says Rwanda does not have the capacity to process large numbers of asylum seekers.

She asks Patel to say how much the UK has agreed to pay Rwanda for taking asylum seekers.

She says Rwanda has not address concerns with its asylum policies. In the past asylum seekers have been shot for protesting about food shortages. And asylum seekers have been returned to countries like Syria and Afghanistan, she says.

She says Patel should be working night and day to get a better plan with France to stop people crossing the Channel in the first place. But Patel can’t, because her relationship with her French counterpart has broken down.

The Home Office is failing to take asylum application decisions. That is why it is asking Rwanda to do it for them.

Patel spent £500,00 chartering a plane she never expected to plane.

That is because Patel is not interested in the policy working. She is only interested in picking fights, she says. Patel is trashing the British values of decency and fairness, she says.

Patel says Labour does not have a solution to the problem of people crossing the Channel on small boats.

And she says it does not have a solution because it does not believe in the need to control borders.

Priti Patel, the home secretary, is making a Commons statement now about the policy of deporting asylum seekers to Rwanda.

She says the government is disappointed by the European court of human rights’ intervention last night.

But she stresses that the court did not rule that the policy was illegal.

The domestic courts approved the removals, she says.

Britain is a generous and welcoming country, she says. But she says the country’s ability to help asylum seekers has been undermined by people arriving in the country illegally.

She says the UK and Rwanda have shown a way forward to dealing with the problem of immigration.

And she says she is saddened by how Rwanda has been “misrepresented” in coverage of this scheme.

Yasmin Qureshi (Lab) raises a point of order. She says Boris Johnson claimed that Labour was on the side of people traffickers. She says that should be struck from the record.

Dame Rosie Winterton, the deputy Speaker, says the view of the Speaker is that that comment was not consistent with the good order expected of people in debate.

Theresa May, the former Conservative PM, says she has a constituent who is a niece of Dom Phillips, the Guardian journalist who went missing in the Amazon. Will the government make this a diplomatic priority?

Johnson says the government is deeply concerned about what happened to him. FCDO officials are working with the Brazilians on this. And he says the government has offered to provide all the support that may be needed.

Sarah Champion (Lab) says sexual assult victims are being advised that if they seek counselling that might undermine their credility as a witness. Will the PM ensure this does not happen?

Johnson does not address the problem directly, but he says the government is trying to ensure sexual assualt victims get better treatment. But some of the legal issues are complicated, he says.

David Jones (Con) says the genetic technology (precision breeding) bill, being debated today, only applies to England. Will the PM ensure other countries in the UK can benefit?

Johnson says “in a loving way” the government wants to ensure other countries can benefit too.

Kerry McCarthy (Lab) asks the PM to support more suicide prevention programmes.

Johnson says the government wants to focus ever more on mental health. It would be good if Labour supported the government’s health spending, he says.

Anna McMorrin (Lab) quotes the new cost of living tsar asking (in a tweet posted before his appointment) why the worst people rise to become PM.

Johnson says McMorrin wants to return to the single market and the EU.

He is referring to this story.

Johnson says he would encourage pensioners to check their eligibility for pension credit.

Liz Twist (Lab) says ministers have not held any talks to attempt to avoid the need for next week’s rail strike. Has the PM had a meeting?

Johnson says one union leader, asked about this, said: “I don’t negotiate with a Tory government.” He says Labour should condemn the strike.

Henry Smith (Con) says, as planning laws are updated, the “brownfield first” approach will continue.

Johnson agrees, and says that principle will still apply.

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