Sunderland and Newcastle MPs vote no on “disgraceful” Safety of Rwanda bill

Written by on 14th February 2024

Five MPs, representing Sunderland and Newcastle, voted No on the House of Commons’ third reading on the Safety of Rwanda bill.

The bill outlines that the purpose is to prevent and deter any illegal migration by returning the refugees to Rwanda while the UK processes their application.

MP Nick Brown, who represents Newcastle upon Tyne East, firmly rejected the bill on its second reading, said: “This bill threatens the UK’s compliance with international law, further undermining the potential to ensure border security and establish return agreements with other countries.

“I am worried that this does nothing to make Rwanda safe.”

The legislation has moved into the committee stages in the House of Lords. The first sitting happened on 12 February with the other two happening today, 14 February, and 19 February.

Jennifer Laws, the North East Campaigns Manager for Asylum Matters, strongly opposes the legislation and said: “The whole thing is a disgraceful, political football and is the last thing we should be doing as a county.”

In November 2023, the Supreme Court ruled against the initial proposed bill, stating there were many risks for individuals who would be deported back to Rwanda.

The North East has seen the home office place some asylum seekers in their neighbourhoods and according to Ms Laws, she has seen the welcoming hospitality of this region.

She added: “In these areas, there is a huge amount of welcome, goodwill and volunteers.

“A lot of these volunteers who are active are people who have been seeking asylum and are refugees themselves.”

Volunteers help by providing legal advice, nutritious food, English lessons and volunteering opportunities since many asylum seekers are unable to work.

Asylum Matter will continue to fight for the right to seek asylum in the UK and have their claims heard here as well.

The UK’s first attempt to return asylum seekers was denied after the European Court of Human Rights interjected.

The focus of the updated bill is to help showcase that Rwanda is a safe country.

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