London's High Court ruled on Monday, 19 December, that the British government's plan to send migrants to Rwanda, known as the UK-Rwanda Plan, is lawful. An application to dismantle the plan put forth by asylum seekers, aid groups, and a border officials' union was dismissed by judges.
The announcement of the plan on 13 April earlier this year by the then British Home Secretary Priti Patel (under the Boris Johnson government) and Rwandan foreign minister Vincent Biruta had sparked angry protests across the country.
After the Johnson government collapsed, Patel was succeeded by another Indian-origin politician in the home office – Suella Braverman, who has most recently called the plan 'compassionate' and 'rational'.
And, the London High Court's ruling means that the first flight will take off under a Conservative Party-led government headed by Rishi Sunak, another Indian-origin leader.
What are their individual contributions to the plan? What have they said about the plan since its inception?
Priti Patel: Drafting and Defending the Plan
Under the UK-Rwanda deal, people who arrive in the UK "illegally" will be taken straight to Rwanda, where they will be assessed for resettlement. In return, the UK has paid the Rwandan government £120 million to house the migrants and integrate them into Rwandan society. The initial segment of the scheme is supposed to last for five years.
After the plan was unveiled, Priti Patel defended it in an article for The Times, jointly writing with the Rwandan foreign minister Vincent Biruta. They argued that her plan would tackle the "deadly trade" of people-smuggling, and that no "humanitarian nation" could allow the suffering of migrants to continue with respect to illegal trafficking.
When asked about the plan, Patel, who was born in London in 1972 to Indian Gujarati parents, had said that the migrants "will be given the support including up to five years of training, integration, accommodation, health care, so that they can resettle and thrive."
After Boris Johnson quit as prime minister after a relentless campaign against him within the Conservative Party, Patel's resignation followed. The Home Office, however, just a few hours after her resignation, said that she "has provided funding in respect of each relocated individual for a minimum of three years (five years for anyone granted refugee status if they stay in Rwanda)."
"Further, she has received detailed assurances about the processing of relocated individuals' asylum claims, which are supported by the arrangements on the ground for the reception and processing of relocated individuals' asylum claims," the statement of the office added.
Suella Braverman: Driving the Plan Forward
Reacting to the London High Court's ruling, Home Secretary Suella Braverman announced her intention to mass-deport to Rwanda people seeking asylum into the UK "at scale and as soon as possible." The London High Court ruling in favour of the government's policy "thoroughly vindicates" the home office's scheme, she added while addressing the House of Commons.
The Indian-origin minister, whose Goan father immigrated to Britain from Kenya while her Tamil mother did the same from Mauritius, even went on to say that "it's what the overwhelming majority of the British people want to see happen," which is where she was wrong.
A YouGov survey released on Monday showed that only 10 percent of British people agreed that the Rwanda plan was the best way to tackle illegal immigration.
The poll also revealed that 39 percent of people wanted the government to make it easier for people to apply for asylum so that they don't have to risk their lives crossing the English Channel on unsafe boats in the first place.
Nevertheless, as the incumbent home secretary, Braverman has said that it is her "dream" and "obsession" to see a flight take asylum seekers to Rwanda. That dream may be coming true soon.
Rishi Sunak's Blessing
In the latest PMQs (Prime Minister's Questions) session, Rishi Sunak made clear his intention and his will to tackle the problem of "illegal migration."
"If you enter the UK illegally you should not be able to remain here," the prime minister told the House of Commons. "Instead, you will be detained and swiftly returned either to your home country or to a safe country where your asylum claim will be considered."
After the London High Court's ruling, Sunak said that he is "pleased" about the ruling and that sending illegal arrivals to a safe country was "common sense."
Even prior to his prime ministerial tenure, Sunak had laid out in a 10-point plan on immigration in which he had said he would cap the number of refugees the government would accept each year and tighten the definition of who qualified to claim asylum.