Sunak Cold after the House of Lords stalled the ratification of his reformed immigration policy

  • Sunak’s deportation policy to Rwanda is encountering significant resistance from the House of Lords over legal and human rights issues.
  • Sunak’s approach to discouraging risky English Channel crossings by implementing the Rwanda deportation scheme has exposed divisions within the Conservative Party and foreshadowed potential legal disputes.
  • The legislation is designed to significantly decrease net migration and enforce stringent conditions on international students to safeguard the local job market.
HM Treasury | The Chancellor records a public information film (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Why is Sunak’s level Cold? 

Answer: His proposed immigration policies hit a stall in their approval. 

In the newest development, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak faces a sobering setback as his immigration reform initiatives face significant challenges. The House of Lords postponed ratification of Sunak’s contentious plan to deport migrants to Rwanda, which is the centrepiece of his immigration policy. This parliamentary blockage demonstrates politicians’ reluctant reaction to a measure aimed at addressing the country’s immigration issues.

The bill, a focal point of Sunak’s governorship, was introduced in direct response to a UK Supreme Court verdict issued late last year. The court declared the deportation of asylum seekers to Kigali, Rwanda’s capital, unconstitutional under international law, citing concerns about human rights and safety. Sunak’s law tries to circumvent these legal difficulties by requiring judges to recognise Rwanda as a safe third nation for deportees, effectively bypassing the Supreme Court’s decision.

However, the proposed bill goes far further, giving UK ministers unprecedented ability to disregard certain provisions of both international and British human rights law. This decision has attracted widespread criticism, highlighting the ethical and legal concerns of such a policy. Critics believe that going around existing human rights protections might set a dangerous precedent, undermining the UK’s commitment to international norms and the rule of law.

The delay in the House of Lords is a severe blow to Sunak’s policy agenda, but it also highlights broader issues in the UK about immigration policy and human rights. As the plan undergoes further review, the coming weeks will be critical in determining if Sunak can warm up the parliamentary climate to ensure passage of his priority immigration reform, or if he will need to rethink his strategy in the face of rising resistance.

What is changing Sunak’s temperature?

Answer: Sunak’s immigration policy faces criticism over legal issues and resistance from the House of Lords and asylum seekers.

The plan by the UK Prime Minister to deport migrants to Rwanda is facing scrutiny, with various factors leading to a decrease in support for the policy.

The opposition within the UK Parliament, particularly from the House of Lords, poses a significant challenge. There is a rising worry among members of the House of Lords regarding the safety and legality of the bill, as they hold the authority to modify or postpone legislation. This chamber, renowned for its meticulous legislative reviews, has raised serious concerns regarding the plan’s alignment with global standards. Former senior judges among the peers bring weight to these concerns, emphasising the possibility of the policy backfiring because of legal and ethical issues.

Additionally, the plan could encounter legal obstacles from the asylum seekers it focuses on. Many individuals escaping persecution and conflict are anticipated to oppose their deportation, claiming that the policy breaches their rights under international human rights and refugee law. Critics have strongly criticised the plan, calling it a costly and inefficient gimmick. The government is being accused of prioritising punitive actions instead of tackling the root causes, like the extensive delay in processing asylum claims.

Critics, including prominent figures in the House of Lords, highlight the plan’s lack of respect for established legal protections. The UK government’s proposal to give ministers the power to bypass certain parts of international and British human rights laws has faced significant backlash, leading to concerns about the country’s dedication to a legal framework it has historically backed.

What is driving Sunak?

Striving to prevent risky English Channel crossings, dealing with internal party rifts, and preparing for potential legal battles regarding the Rwanda deportation policy.

A significant development is unfolding that may reshape the UK’s immigration strategy, as Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s stance on deterring English Channel crossings by migrants is under scrutiny. Sunak’s approach, focusing on the removal of asylum seekers to Rwanda, has ignited a heated discussion spanning the political spectrum, revealing significant divisions within the Conservative Party.

Earlier last month, the House of Commons experienced two days of heated debate resulting in a close win for the policy, highlighting the controversial nature of the proposal. In the midst of a political storm, around 60 lawmakers from the right wing of Sunak’s party made an unsuccessful effort to strengthen the Rwanda bill. Their objective was to strengthen the legislation in preparation for potential legal challenges from experts when the government starts relocating asylum seekers to Rwanda.

The internal conflict within the Conservative Party highlights the complexity of the immigration issue and demonstrates Sunak’s determination to reduce the risky journey across the English Channel. 

What does this mean for you?

Answer: Rishi Sunak’s immigration policy has the potential to greatly influence UK migration patterns and international relations, potentially encountering legal and parliamentary obstacles.

The new legislation introduced by Rishi Sunak has profound and multifaceted implications for individuals affected by UK immigration policies. Intending to reduce net migration by approximately 300,000, as per ANI’s report, this legislation implements strict measures such as restricting overseas students from bringing their family members to the UK.

While the primary reasoning behind the policy is to safeguard the local job market from being negatively impacted by immigration, the deportation of asylum seekers to Rwanda has sparked international scrutiny, with the Rwandan government cautioning about potential withdrawal if the scheme violates international obligations. Sunak’s decision to legalise a previously illegal practice is poised to create a period of uncertainty. This development could lead to legal disputes and clashes in parliament, highlighting the policy’s far-reaching effects on the UK’s legal, political, and social environment. 

The opposition to Sunak’s immigration policy comes at a critical time for the United Kingdom, calling into question its commitment to human rights and international principles. The potential legal and ethical repercussions point to a bigger discussion about migration management, which will put the balance between sovereignty and global duty to the test in a more connected world.

Amy Ng’eno

R&A Intern