Rwanda flight: 'Inhumane' policy is 'creating division', says Batley and Spen MP

Batley and Spen MP Kim Leadbeater has accused the Government of deliberately stoking political divisions among the public with its as-yet failed attempts to deport asylum-seekers to Rwanda.

By Richard Beecham
Saturday, 18th June 2022, 6:00 am

It follows a new immigration policy – announced in April by Home Secretary Priti Patel – which would see anyone travelling illegally to the UK “relocated” to Rwanda while their asylum claim is considered.

Critics of the scheme have called the plans “inhumane” and “expensive”, while an 11th-hour legal challenge saw the first asylum flight to the east African nation grounded this week.

Ms Leadbeater has this week branded the scheme a “disaster”, and sees it as the actions of a beleaguered Government deliberately creating a controversial story to help them politically.

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Batley and Spen MP Kim Leadbeater

“I think this has been a real debacle from the start by the Government,” she said.

“I think what we are seeing play out now is that people are falling out about this really serious and important issue.

“The cynical side of me thinks that’s what the Government wanted to happen – they wanted this to be a big, controversial story that played in their favour politically.

“But this is people’s lives that we are talking about, and I think the solution they have come up with is inhumane.

"It’s financially pretty disastrous – it’s costing them an absolute fortune to do what they’re doing. “

A flight expected to take around seven asylum-seekers had been due to fly on Tuesday evening, but was cancelled minutes before take-off following a late intervention from the European Court of Human Rights.

Ms Leadbeater says the decision shows the Government has backed itself into a corner by alienating itself from the rest of Europe.

She said: “Because they have not been able to have positive relationships with the EU and not been able to negotiate on a better solution, they have come up with this solution.

“You have desperate people who are seeking asylum and trying to escape from war zones and horrific situations being pushed around the world by our Government, and I think that’s morally, ethically and financially not the right solution. They need to revisit this.”

Priti Patel has claimed such a scheme would help to deter deadly people-smuggling trades across the English Channel, and has stated several times that Rwanda is a “safe” country.

Speaking in the Commons on Thursday, she said: “The British people have repeatedly voted for controlled immigration, and the right to secure borders.

“While the decision of the Strasbourg court was disappointing and surprising, we remain committed to these policies.

"We believe we are fully compliant with our domestic and international obligations.”