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UK lawmakers vote in favor of PM’s Rwanda immigration bill

Lawmakers in the United Kingdom (UK) on Tuesday voted in favor of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s emergency legislation on immigration despite pressure from Tory hardliners who wanted the government to scrap the bill.

Members of Parliament (MPs) voted in favor of the bill by 313 to 269. The bill will now receive detailed scrutiny and further votes are expected as early as next month.

In April 2022, the UK reached a deal with Rwanda, under which illegal immigrants and asylum seekers would be sent to the east African country to have their claims processed there. If successful, they would be granted permanent residency in Rwanda rather than being allowed to return to the UK.

However, the scheme has met with resistance. The first flight scheduled to take seven migrants to Rwanda in June last year was canceled after a last-minute intervention by the European Court of Human Rights. Last month, the UK’s Supreme Court ruled that the government’s scheme was unlawful.

Sunak’s government last week unveiled emergency legislation designed to override domestic and international human rights law, which would prevent such deportations. However, Tory hardliners say the new bill is not harsh enough.

The Conservative European Research Group (ERG), a prominent group of pro-Brexit lawmakers who favor a hard line on immigration, on Monday urged the government to pull the emergency bill and redraft it.

Reacting to the parliamentary vote, Sunak tweeted, “The British people should decide who gets to come to this country – not criminal gangs or foreign courts. That’s what this Bill delivers.”

“We will now work to make it law so that we can get flights going to Rwanda and stop the boats,” he added.

Keir Starmer, leader of the main opposition Labour Party, promised on Tuesday that his party would cancel the Rwanda bill if it wins the next general election, expected in 2024. ■

Famagusta Gazette