Voices: Rwanda scheme ‘costly totem’ that ‘blurs lines’ between illegal and legal migration, say Independent readers

A group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover, Kent, onboard the RNLI Dover Lifeboat following a small boat incident in the Channel (Gareth Fuller/PA) (PA Wire)
A group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover, Kent, onboard the RNLI Dover Lifeboat following a small boat incident in the Channel (Gareth Fuller/PA) (PA Wire)

Two years on and Priti Patel and Boris Johnson’s Rwanda plan remains stalled in Parliament.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and the House of Lords keep clashing over amendments - but Independent readers are largely united in their view that the scheme should be scrapped altogether.

The immigration policy, first proposed in April 2022, would see asylum seekers relocated to Rwanda for processing and resettlement.

However, legal challenges have so far prevented anyone being sent to the East African country.

With so much back-and-forth on the Rwanda scheme, we asked if you felt the plans are the best way to tackle the challenges faced by the UK asylum system.

The overwhelming majority of readers were keen to see the plans axed, labelling it “ridiculous”, a “costly totem” and “another Brexit failure”.

The comments came as the United Nations Human Rights Committee urged Britain on Thursday to abandon the contentious bill. The committee said it was calling on the British government to withdraw the bill or repeal it if it passed.

Here’s what you had to say:

‘Ridiculous plan’

A ridiculous plan without any legal merit or justification, created by a morally bankrupt Government with the sole intention of further dividing society. Iain Banks called it out 11 years ago in his final interview.

“I won’t miss waiting for the next financial disaster because we haven’t dealt with the underlying causes of the last one. Nor will I be disappointed not to experience the results of the proto-fascism that’s rearing its grisly head right now. It’s the utter idiocy, the sheer wrong-headedness of the response that beggars belief. I mean, your society’s broken, so who should we blame? Should we blame the rich, powerful people who caused it? No let’s blame the people with no power and no money and these immigrants who don’t even have the vote, yeah it must be their fault.”


‘A fortune spent with no result’

A foolish plan thought up by right-wing fools, a fortune spent with no result.

The UK has a vast shortage of workers in healthcare and agriculture, add those to the many other skills that are needed because of years of neglect by the government and the huge gaps in apprenticeships that have caused a huge skills shortage.

Instead of spending millions on a foolhardy deportation scheme wouldn’t it be better to educate and train people, give people a chance to earn, pay tax, and pay national insurance, all of which the UK needs?

Yes, there has to be a limit and a degree of tolerance, but let’s grab some of these people. Wasn’t the USA built on migration?


‘Ship them across by ferry’

The best way to deal with small boats is for the government to ship them across by ferry for the same price instead of the traffickers and divert the revenue to processing the claims on board the vessel and provision of temporary accommodation so it does not cost the taxpayer.

A £5000 charge would allow for at least a few days in a hotel to process claims and deport if necessary.

An efficient processing system needs developing to ensure effective throughput.


‘Foaming hatred’

The criminal waste of taxpayers’ money on this ridiculous farce would have paid for the recruitment of additional staff to clear the backlog of applications. However, pinheaded Cruellas were blinded by their foaming hatred.


‘Another Brexit failure’

The Rwanda ‘plan’ has been dead in the water for months. The only reason that this zombie fiasco still lurches on is its usefulness as a sop to the Tory right-wing and to serve as a distraction from the woeful performance of the Home Office in failing to process applications.

In one sense it’s another Brexit failure. The need for an enlarged civil service currently failing to cope with an increased burden of bureaucracy is a direct consequence of the loss of administrators in Brussels.

Nobody except the most deluded optimists on the fruitloop wing of the Tory Party is in the slightest doubt that there isn’t the remotest likelihood of any aircraft leaving the tarmac.

It’s a national scandal that so much public money has been wasted on this ridiculous populist wheeze.


‘A government that cannot afford to lose’

Just looking at the whole Rwanda thing from top to tail, what struck me is at every junction, at every pressure point, every node there is a new revelation that just never feels British. Never feels like the type of thing we would do in our recent history. We have transported people in the past, be it prisoners or orphans, but now?

We have had to compromise so much to get this policy anyway near completion.

To spend so much time, money and effort to get this through the House of Lords and the courts, I wonder if people consider losing our cultural values just to send people thousands of miles to appease racist idiots worth it in the end. Threatening to leave the European Court of Human Rights, breaking international law, trying to sidestep our own courts by spurious legislation, is that who we think we are, or are willing to become to push a policy that does not really fit us?

We now have a government that cannot afford to lose face in front of the least desirable people in our country. What a mess.


‘We’re not taking our fair share’

Leaving aside the considerable legal and moral considerations weighing in against Rwanda, consider with cold logic the so-called rationale:

- We are full: No, we’re not. And we’re not taking our fair share, either.

- Infrastructure (housing, schools, NHS etc) strains: Whose fault is that? Certainly not a few thousand refugees. 1.2m authorised immigrants in 2023.... people we NEED and come in via points scheme..... and the Cons are fussing about Channel crossings (2% of that) and potential Rwanda numbers (0.1% of it). WHY?

- Housing costs £s billions: Whose fault is that? BACKLOG escalated £s. Who let it build up? NAO data shows a) Rwanda will cost MORE than housing the equivalent number in hotels & b) huge cost associated with converting the Bibby, airfields etc.

- Rwanda as deterrent: No evidence for it. How would a scheme that, at best / worst, would impact on less than 10% of total Channel migrants be a deterrent? Crossings are primarily affected by weather, vary hugely by year. 2022 was unusually high (c.45k) but 2023 dropped back by half, due to Channel conditions and efforts in France. If it’s a deterrent, how on earth does that make sense?

- Rwanda IS safe: No, it isn’t. Cons can legislate till they’re blue in the face that black is white and up is down but their spokesperson in HoL admitted Rwanda is NOT safe now and won’t be, until conditions in the Treaty we’ve done with them are met. Those conditions have barely even been kicked off yet, let alone completed.

All in all, the proposal doesn’t really hold any water, does it? In fact, it might be the perfect vessel for crossing the Channel.


‘Costly totem’

The Rwanda scheme is just a costly totem offered up to the electorate as a pretence that the Tories are actually tackling immigration.

It will not work and would make little or no difference to the overall numbers if it did but it diverts attention away from more significant factors like the number of foreign students coming to this country and the money that brings in.


‘Culture wars’

The easiest way to stop the small boats is to open up safe and legal routes to claim asylum in the UK. This would cut off the people smugglers at a stroke and save many lives too.

But this government won’t do that, because they need the small boats as a visible tool in their culture wars. The Tories are, in effect, subsidising the people smugglers.


‘Blurring the lines’


I have listened carefully to all the parliamentary debates in both houses. The devil is in the detail. The bill says that Rwanda is safe and no-one - not even our highest courts - can say otherwise, whatever happens or will happen there in the future. This is such a dangerous precedent and smacks of a very unpopular government saying ‘we know best’.

The scheme gobbles an undefined amount of cash for an undefined number of removals. The government has the audacity to withhold its predictions of these vital figures from the public.

All this stacking against the scheme before any consideration of the trampling over of human rights and neglect of our global responsibilities to protect and provide a safe haven for those legitimately fleeing war and persecution - however they arrived.

An efficient and speedy assessment and removal system would be much more of a deterrent and save a huge amount of money of hotels and dodgy barges.

The government specialises in blurring the lines between ‘legal’ and ‘illegal’ migration. The former being by far the highest figure. They allow the public to scrap with migrants over the scarce public facilities - doctors, dentists, housing etc - all of this government’s own making.

I think all conservative MPs blindly following the whip in the commons to prop up a failing government need to take a long hard look at themselves.


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