Politics latest: 'Enough is enough,' Sunak declares - Rwanda flights starting 'come what may' (2024)

Key points
  • 'No foreign court will stop us': Sunak declares Rwanda plan will start 'come what may'
  • Explained:Why the Rwanda bill has not passed through parliament yet
  • Pledge tracker:Is Sunak stopping the boats?
  • Met Police chief to meet home secretary after calls for him to quit over antisemitism row
  • Rob Powell:A Met chief is again in middle of policing and politics - what happens now?
  • Listen to this week's Politics at Jack and Sam's bytapping hereto follow wherever you get your podcasts
  • Live reporting by Ben Bloch


Train drivers at 16 companies to stage fresh strikes


Sunak trying desperately to be heard - but is the public listening anymore?

A prime minister desperate to convince voters he and his party can still be trusted to "stop the boats", Rishi Sunak stood at the podium in Downing Street with the very slogan slapped on the front of it.

But is that slogan a reminder of a promise, or a reminder of a failure?

Calling a news conference to tell us all what you are doing to get this policy off the ground may seem rather unnecessary, but it is a warning shot to the Lords who have continued to stop the bill becoming law due to their concerns around its legality and protection of vulnerable people.

Mr Sunak insists flights will take off in 10 to 12 weeks from now, and that lawyers, judges and even courts have been prepared to deal with legal challenges and obstacles to getting flights off to Rwanda.

But even if flights do take off, is the public even listening anymore?

Public apathy and loss of trust could be Mr Sunak's biggest hurdle to climb, even if this embattled prime minister can prove he can make Suella Braverman's dream a reality.


Pledge tracker: Is Sunak stopping the boats?

Over a year ago, Rishi Sunak made five pledges for voters to judge him on.

One of the promises was to stop small boats crossing the Channel.

The PM said in his news conference earlier that the country can see the success of his efforts to stop illegal migration, noting that small boat crossings last year were down a third on the year before.

But so far this year, the number of people having made the crossing is higher than at the same time last year.

Use our tool below to see the PM's progress for yourself:


Rwanda scheme a 'colossal failure'

Here is the Liberal Democrats' reaction to Rishi Sunak's news conference...

The party leader, Sir Ed Davey, says: "No amount of sound bites or spin can change the fact that the Conservatives' Rwanda scheme is a colossal failure."

He accuses the government of having wasted "millions of pounds and years of government attention" on the policy.

"It's time for Rishi Sunak to get a grip, get to [Buckingham] Palace and give this country the election it is cryingoutfor."


Analysis: Sunak formally confirms delay to Rwanda flights taking off

We've just been hearing from our deputy political editor Sam Coateswith his reaction to Rishi Sunak's news conference.

"One of the ways in which to judge these press conferences is in terms of the new information - what is the prime minister telling us that we didn't know before?" Sam says.

"Effectively, the prime minister now formally confirmed there is yet another delay to the moment that flights will take off to Rwanda."

Rishi Sunak had promised to get flights off in the spring, but now it will be in late June or early July.

The other piece of new information is that the government expects "multiple flights a month through the summer", contradicting speculation that ministers would work to get one symbolic flight off the ground as proof of concept.

More broadly, Sam notes there are two questions about election timing, saying: "If there is no Rwanda policy, it feels very hard to read between the lines and get any hint that there will be an election pre-summer given that the policy won't be under way [at that point]."

That means we can "take as a broad hint" that the election will be, as the prime minister has previously said, in the second half of the year.

The main messages of that news conference were the level of preparation the government has been doing to get the policy and trying to blame Labour peers, though Sam said there are "many factors" that went into the delay.

He adds the deterrent of the policy, and therefore stopping small boats crossing the Channel, is the "mark of success in this policy".

"We'll just have to see whether it works," he says.


That concludes the PM's news conference

Rishi Sunak has now finished his news conference about the Rwanda scheme.

The PM was forceful in insisting the government will get flights off the ground "come what may", and blamed Labour peers for delaying the bill.

Scroll down to read what he said.


Rwanda 'doing absolutely everything required'

Rishi Sunak is asked whether he is still confident Rwanda is on board with the scheme, and says he met his counterpart the other week.

The two sides have a "good close relationship", he says, and Rwanda is "doing absolutely everything required to make sure the scheme is successful".

A joint monitoring committee has been set up, lawyers are ready and judges have been trained, Mr Sunak says.

The plan is "in very good shape".


'Success is when the boats have been stopped', Sunak tells Sky News

Next to ask a question of the prime minister is ourpolitical editor Beth Rigby.

She asks if the passage of the bill will be a moment of success for him, and if he will need to remove thousands of people before the general election to close the vast gap in the polls with Labour and regain the trust of voters.

Rishi Sunak says: "Success is when the boats have been stopped. That's what the country expects, that's what the government and I are committed to delivering."

He admits the first flights taking off in 10-12 weeks is "later than we wanted", againblaming Labour peers in the House of Lords.

But, he says, "I think people can have some confidence about my commitment to deliver this because of our record to date."

He says there was a "general sense" when he took office that no one could stop the rise in illegal migration, but he says it is "fundamentally wrong" that people "jump the queue", which "puts pressure on service, and by the way, risks their lives".

The prime minister insists his record shows the government "can make a difference", pointing to illegal crossing being down by a third last year (although the number of people crossing in small boats is higher than this time last year).

He lists a number of successes the government has claimed, which he says should give people confidence that the small boats can be crossed.

"We're not there yet by any means, but the plan is working," he adds.


Sunak blames Lords for blocking bill - but doesn't answer if it is 'fit for purpose'

A reporter from GB News says it has been five months since the PM announced the "emergency" Rwanda legislation.

She then asks if the House of Lords is fit for purpose.

Rishi Sunak says the government has "worked at pace to deliver" because "this is an incredibly important issue for the country".

The patience of the country has "run out" and people are "fed up" with "people trying to block this policy", he says, blaming the judiciary and the legislature for the delays.

The government addressed the concerns of the Supreme Court "in a matter of weeks", Mr Sunak says, but he blames peers in the House of Lords for voting to block the bill.

"That happened just last week again. It will happen again today," he says, and repeats this is a priority for the country.

Nonetheless, he says, the government has been "working hard to prepare to implement" the policy.

Despite his criticisms of the House of Lords, however, he does not say whether it is fit for purpose.


PM expresses 'shock and anger' over Met Police clip

The Daily Express asks whether Rishi Sunak has confidence in Met Police commissioner Sir Mark Rowley after an antisemitism row.

The prime minister says he shared the "shock and anger many are feeling" when he saw the video clips at the centre of the row, but he still has confidence in Sir Mark.

Footage released last week showed antisemitism campaigner Gideon Falter being prevented by a police officer from crossing a road near a pro-Palestinian march in London.

The officer told Mr Falter, who was wearing a kippah skull cap, that he was "worried about the reaction to your presence" as he looked "openly Jewish".

The Met was forced to apologise, and then ended up apologising for its apology after suggesting opponents of pro-Palestinian marches "must know that their presence is provocative".

Mr Sunak says he has confidence in Sir Mark still "on the basis he works to rebuild the confidence and trust, not just of the Jewish community but of the wider public".

He says the police have a "difficult job" but "what happened was clearly wrong" and it is "right they've apologised for that".

Politics latest: 'Enough is enough,' Sunak declares - Rwanda flights starting 'come what may' (2024)


What is the new bill in Rwanda? ›

We introduced the Rwanda Bill to deter vulnerable migrants from making perilous crossings and break the business model of the criminal gangs who exploit them. The passing of this legislation will allow us to do that and make it very clear that if you come here illegally, you will not be able to stay.

How many languages does Rishi Sunak speak? ›

Who is the head of government in Rwanda? ›

Who is the prime minister of England? ›

The current prime minister is Rishi Sunak of the Conservative Party, who assumed the office on 25 October 2022. No fixed position; often held by: Deputy Prime Minister. First Secretary of State.

How much is the government paying Rwanda? ›

The UK government had paid £240m to Rwanda by the end of 2023. However, the total payment will be at least £370m over five years, according to the National Audit Office .

How many people can be sent to Rwanda? ›

How many people can be relocated to Rwanda? The arrangement to relocate individuals to Rwanda is uncapped. Rwanda has plans in place to scale up provision to take in as many relocated individuals as required.

Who speaks the fastest language in the world? ›

Several academic studies have found that Japanese is the fastest recorded language. But indeed, every tongue has its unique beauty and value, regardless of its speed of spoken rate. It is always a great thing to learn a new dialect, whether it is fast or slow.

What actress speaks 6 languages? ›

Natalie Portman – Hebrew, French, Japanese, German and Spanish. The grand finale! She speaks a total of six languages but is also able to dabble in a few others, including Arabic. Natalie is originally from Jerusalem and graduated from Harvard.

Who can speak 200 languages? ›

And Sir John Bowring, Governor of Hong Kong from 1854 to 1859, was known for having familiarity with as many as 200 languages (and being able to speak 100 of them).

What religion is Rwanda? ›

The majority of Rwandans, about 65%, are Roman Catholic, with another 9% Protestant. Only about 1% of the population is Muslim. About a fourth of Rwandans are adherents of indigenous beliefs. However, these numbers and divisions are not clear cut.

How democratic is Rwanda? ›

Although Rwanda is nominally democratic, elections are manipulated in various ways, which include banning opposition parties, arresting or assassinating critics, and electoral fraud.

What is the political situation in Rwanda? ›

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY. Rwanda is a constitutional republic dominated by a strong presidency. The ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front party leads a governing coalition that includes four smaller parties.

Who is more powerful in England prime minister or president? ›

Therefore, unlike presidents, the prime minister can directly initiate legislation and due to the context British politics functions within, faces fewer "veto players" than a president.

Who is best British PM ever? ›

Winston Churchill is generally considered one of the greatest prime ministers for his leadership during the Second World War. Clement Attlee, who served as Labour Leader for over 20 years, is almost always very highly rated among prime ministers.

What religion is the prime minister of England? ›

Early life and education (1980–2001) Sunak was born on 12 May 1980 in Southampton General Hospital in Southampton, Hampshire, to East African-born Hindu parents of Indian Punjabi descent, Yashvir and Usha Sunak.

What is the illegal immigration bill in Rwanda? ›

The aim of the Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill is to confirm Rwanda as a safe third country for the removal of people entering the UK under new immigration laws, and to deter migration by unsafe and illegal routes.

How many asylum seekers will be sent to Rwanda? ›

The scheme will allow the government to send asylum seekers "entering the UK illegally" to Rwanda. Most of those affected will be people arriving in small boats. The capacity of the proposed facility in Rwanda is 200 people annually, representing just 0.7% of 2023 small boat arrivals.

Is Rwanda safe for asylum seekers? ›

Five months ago, the UK's Supreme Court ruled that the plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda was unlawful. The court found the African country was “unsafe” under international law on refugee protection. The UK government, rather than changing the plan, has just passed a new law to declare that Rwanda is safe.

What is Rwanda's law? ›

Migrants who have arrived illegally – which, by definition, is the case for asylum seekers – to the UK will no longer be able to apply to London for protection, but will be detained before being deported to Rwanda, which is supposed to process their applications in exchange for substantial aid.

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