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Lords Back Afghan Heroes and Refuse to Pass Sunak’s Plan to Deport Asylum Seekers

In a dramatic turn of events, the House of Lords has rejected ministerial pleas to end the parliamentary deadlock over the Rwanda bill. The bill, championed by Rishi Sunak, has become a focal point of contention between the two chambers.

In two decisive votes, peers stood firm, maintaining their insistence on two critical changes to the Safety of Rwanda Bill. These changes, passed with majorities of 37 and 52, have significant implications for the proposed legislation.

Lords Back Afghan Heroes And Refuse To Pass Sunak’s Plan To Deport Asylum Seekers
  1. Exemption for Those Who Served with the UK Military or Government Overseas: The Lords insisted on including an exemption from removal for individuals who worked alongside the UK military or government overseas. This provision specifically protects Afghan interpreters and others who risked their lives in service.
  2. Conditional Safety Status for Rwanda: The second key change centres around Rwanda’s safety status. Peers demanded that Rwanda cannot be treated as a safe country until promised protections are fully in place. This cautious approach underscores the need to ensure the safety and well-being of potential deportees.

Earlier, Home Office Minister Michael Tomlinson issued a stern warning, emphasising that allowing the bill to pass without these amendments would send a clear message: “If you come to the United Kingdom illegally, you will not be able to stay.”

Despite Downing Street’s refusal to make concessions, rumours circulated that ministers were considering tweaks to ensure the bill’s passage. Notably, these adjustments might include exemptions for Afghan nationals who assisted British forces.

Wednesday’s vote has left the bill in a state of parliamentary ping-pong. The House of Commons initially passed it to the Lords, who responded with their recommended changes. However, MPs subsequently rejected these alterations, perpetuating the deadlock.

Michael Tomlinson, urging Lords to reconsider, faces a high-stakes battle. Meanwhile, Rishi Sunak has made passing the bill a cornerstone of his leadership. The fate of asylum seekers and the delicate balance between security and compassion hang in the balance.

As the Rwanda Bill continues its journey through the halls of power, the question remains: When could flights actually take off? The answer lies in the delicate interplay of politics, policy, and human lives.


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