Rishi Sunak suffers first defeat on Rwanda plan by House of Lords

Rishi Sunak suffers first defeat on Rwanda plan by House of Lords

Many within the Tory party thought the Bill needed to be 'tougher'

GB News
Dimitris Kouimtsidis

By Dimitris Kouimtsidis

Published: 22/01/2024

- 19:55

Updated: 22/01/2024

- 21:34

The upper house voted by 214 to 171 against the ratification of the UK's new treaty with Rwanda

Rishi Sunak has suffered his first defeat on his Rwanda plan by the House of Lords.

The Upper House handed the Government its first blow, voting against the ratification of the new treaty with Rwanda by 214 votes to 171.

This development offers the Government a pretty big indication that the Bill - due to be debated in the House next week - will not be passed.

This follows a report last week that recommended the treaty not be ratified, despite the Prime Minister urging peers not to "frustrate the will of the people".

Rishi Sunak

Rishi Sunak's Rwanda plan has suffered its first blow


The vote on the treaty is only advisory and cannot stop the treaty from being ratified, instead seeking to delay the ratification.

If the Commons were to vote the same way however, that would delay its ratification.

The debate was proposed by former attorney general and Labour peer Peter Goldsmith, who said the report had been supported unanimously by the cross-party International Agreements Committee.

Lord Goldsmith said that parliament cannot determine whether Rwanda is "safe" because the steps included in the treaty have not been shown to be functional.


The border force bringing migrants onto the shore

The Government is trying to pass a bill to send migrants to Rwanda


He added: “We are not saying the treaty should never be ratified but we are saying that Parliament should have the opportunity to scrutinise the treaty and its implementing measures in full before it makes a judgement about Rwanda is safe.”

The International Agreements Committee said: "Some aspects of the monitoring arrangements under the treaty are unclear or incomplete".

The motion said: "This House resolves, in accordance with section 20 of the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010, that His Majesty's Government should not ratify the UK-Rwanda Agreement on an Asylum Partnership until the protections it provides have been fully implemented."

Conservative former Foreign Officer Lord David Howell however pointed out that Rwanda is a member of the Commonwealth and criticised the "patronising tone" revolving around some comments made about the African country.

He said: "I can understand the Rwandan government's exasperation and that of senior legal figures at the implication that their system somehow has got to be reinforced, made over and renewed to bring it up to scratch and be called safe."

Home office minister Baron Andrew Sharpe said: “This begs the question, is Labour using the House of Lords to try to frustrate our plan to stop the boats?”

The Lords is set to debate the Rwanda Bill - which passed through the Commons last week - next Monday, with the PM piling on the pressure.

He said: "Will the opposition in the appointed House of Lords try and frustrate the will of the people as expressed by the elected house?

“Or will they get on board and do the right thing? It’s as simple as that.”

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