The government’s new strategy for dealing with asylum seekers to the UK by deporting them to Rwanda has been widely lambasted for its unethical treatment of migrants and ineffectiveness at dealing with the issue. While the PM has described it as an “innovative approach made possible by Brexit freedoms,” many have argued it is nothing of the sort.
The criticism is now coming from within Mr Johnson’s own party, as MP for Haltemprice and Howden and former Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union David Davis has unleashed a withering takedown of the strategy.
Mr Davis described the Rwanda deal as “fraught with practical problems, beset by moral dilemmas and hamstrung by extortionate costs”.
He added: “Outsourcing our international obligations are certainly not the freedoms that Brexit was about winning.”
While the Prime Minister’s plan supposedly aims to disrupt gangs and extremism, Mr Davis argues “there is little evidence that outsourcing our obligations under the 1951 UN Convention on Refugees is going to break the people smugglers’ business model, nor that economic migrants are actually taking advantage of the asylum system on any significant scale.”
Mr Davis first highlights the fact that the new plan seems to scarcely touch the issue it is apparently aiming to fight.
In a press conference with Priti Patel, the Rwanda foreign minister said that migrants may be deported again to a third country but he could not say which one.
This could lead to them being deported again and into the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) or into Uganda.
A rise of insecurity in the DRC is widely attributed to youth gangs known as the Kulanas, with a surge of serious crimes by these gangs in 2020.
Meanwhile Ugandan police warned last year of armed militias operating on roads, robbing and threatening those who pass.
Migrants who have been deported to these places, argued Mr Davis, with “nothing but the clothes on their backs,” are “ripe for exploitation by extremists.”
He added: “People in need of protection should come to the UK via safe and lawful routes rather than making an illegal journey.
“But those routes need to be available, and unless you are a Ukrainian or Afghan, there are simply no safe and legal routes available to you.”
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He also highlighted the number of migrants coming to the UK who are doing so legitimately.
He said: “More than seven out of ten people claiming asylum in the UK after crossing the Channel are granted permanent leave to remain and refugee status by the Home Office, even before the appeals process kicks in.
“The overwhelming majority aren’t gaming the system, they are being found to be legitimate refugees who are so desperate that they risk drowning in the Channel.”
Mr Davis also keys into an important idea for many Britons – whether Mr Johnson’s claim that the Rwanda deal is thanks to Brexit and that therefore this constitutes part of delivering the exit from the EU, is accurate.
The former shadow home secretary doesn’t believe so, stating: “Brexit was about taking back control. About asserting our own sovereignty and deciding our own destiny.
“The freedoms of Brexit should be about innovations justifying British exceptionalism on the basis of moral leadership, not moral delinquency.
“We are better than this. Or at least, we used to be.”