Rishi Sunak's Flagship Rwanda Bill Has Been Delayed Yet Again

Rishi Sunak announced his plans for an
Rishi Sunak announced his plans for an "emergency" Rwanda bill last November. LEON NEAL via Getty Images

Rishi Sunak’s flagship Rwanda bill has been delayed yet again after peers refused to admit defeat in their attempts to water it down.

In a further blow for the prime minister, the House of Lords tonight passed two more amendments to the draft law.

The first, calling for an independent monitoring committee to rule on whether Rwanda is a safe country, was passed by 245 votes to 208.

The second, which says those who have served the British Army, such as Afghan interpreters, should be exempt from deportation to the east African nation, was passed by 247 to 195.

The latest government defeats mean the Safety of Rwanda Bill will now return to the House of Commons for a fifth time as the parliamentary “ping pong” over it continues.

It will not be passed until next Monday at the earliest - five months after the prime minister first announced he was bringing forward the “emergency” legislation.

Downing Street had hoped to finally get the bill onto the statute book this week - but peers have refused to back down”.

Earlier today, MPs overturned four amendments to the bill which were passed by the House of Lords last night.

Sunak has insisted that the bill is necessary to finally deport asylum seekers to Rwanda, two years after the controversial policy was first announced.

Shadow immigration minister Stephen Kinnock said: “They can try to blame Labour, the Lords, or even the former military leaders who voted to amend the government’s bill this evening to prevent Afghan interpreters who helped our armed forces from being sent to Rwanda.

“But this is their mess, and they have no idea how to solve it. Rather than wasting more time and money on their failed scheme they should back Labour’s plan to properly protect our border security and go after the criminal smuggler gangs.”

The PM has vowed to get the flights off the ground in the spring, but Treasury minister Laura Trott cast doubt on when that was during a “car crash” interview on Sky Ndews this morning.

Presenter Kay Burley asked her: “Who is going to fly these people to Rwanda?”

Trott replied: “We are working on operationalising this, but we’re not going to go into details on how we’re going to do that.

“We will be ready for flights to take off in the spring, when the legislation passes.”

Burley then asked her: “When does spring mean to you? We’re cantering towards May now.”

Laughing, Trott replied: “Well there’s lots of definitions of spring, but we’re hoping to get them up and running as quickly as possible.”