“Rwanda has totally transformed over the last few decades, it’s a very, very different country from what it was,” the Prime Minister said.
It highlighted a litany of human rights abuses including “credible reports of unlawful or arbitrary killings by the government; forced disappearance by the government; torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment by the government; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; arbitrary detention; political prisoners or detainees; politically motivated reprisals against individuals located outside the country, including killings, kidnappings, and violence…”
So any refugees given a one-way ticket to Rwanda – on the grounds they are considered “inadmissible” to the UK – should beware what they do and say there. Political dissent may be dangerous.
Nicola Sturgeon names UK government plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda ‘despi…
She described it as “some of the worst suffering recorded in MSF’s 50-year existence”, adding: “One-third of our patients attempted suicide. Children as young as nine years-old were trying to kill themselves. This kind of suffering is what awaits refugees in Rwanda if plans go ahead. It is medically and ethically reprehensible.”
Johnson himself recognized there were likely to be legal challenges, complaining of “a formidable army of politically motivated lawyers who for years have made their business to thwart removals and frustrate the government”.
A Prime Minister fined for breaking the law, complaining about lawyers attempting to ensure the government acts in accordance with its own laws.
Apart from moral concerns, the plan could cost an estimated £1.4 billion a year, according to the Refugee Council.
The Home Office questioned the figure, but former Conservative Cabinet minister and peer Sayeeda Warsi, in remarks echoed by other moderate Tories, warned the scheme would be “ineffective and costly”, as well as “inhumane”.
Of course, Johnson would have been well aware of the wave of criticism this plan would provoke. A snap YouGov poll may help explain his motivation for him. While it found that 42 per cent of all respondents were opposed to the idea, with 35 in favour, among Conservatives 59 per cent supported it, with 22 against.
For a Prime Minister in trouble and facing local elections early next month, some ‘red meat’ to fire up the most ardent Brexiteers may go a long way to ensuring his political survival.
Moderate Conservatives now need to think long and hard about where Johnson is leading his party. Writing in the New Statesman on Wednesday, former Conservative MP David Gauke said members of Johnson’s government “frequently have to defend decisions that raise questions of integrity and property”. “Our politics becomes grubbier, our standards lower, our institutions weaker,” he wrote.
Johnson’s populist attack on asylum seekers is straight out of Donald Trump’s playbook, a distraction from the Prime Minister’s law-breaking and other more important issues.
This is an immoral and cruel scheme and one that raises fundamental questions about what kind of country the UK, in the post European Union era, is turning out to be.
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