OPINION: Rwanda asylum scheme is a part of securing full control of our borders

A Boeing 767 aircraft at MoD Boscombe Down, near Salisbury, which is believed to be the plane set to

A Boeing 767 aircraft at MoD Boscombe Down, near Salisbury, which was believed to be the plane set to take asylum seekers from the UK to Rwanda. - Credit: PA

I sympathise with those who find it rather irritating when certain elite members of society, who have never had to live with the consequences of uncontrolled illegal immigration, are amongst the first and the most vocal to attack the Government’s attempts to address it.

Many of those who oppose the Government’s Rwanda scheme seek to deliberately conflate people’s opposition and concern with uncontrolled illegal immigration with that of controlled legal immigration. The reason why they seek to do this is because it’s their aim to try and smear those they disagree with as being xenophobic.

They also seek to blur the distinction that exists between genuine refugees who are fleeing directly from persecution or war zones and the individuals who have passed through numerous safe European countries where they have failed to claim asylum and are seeking illegal entry into our own country.

As much as I disagree with those who are staunchly in support of open borders and oppose all border control, I at least respect their transparency on what their true beliefs and goals are - unlike those who jump up and down about the Government’s Rwanda scheme, but then have no alternative for how we should tackle a status quo which is clearly unacceptable, with thousands of people endangering their lives and illegally entering our country every year.

I have received huge levels of emails and letters from constituents who have been angry about the small boat crossings, so I welcomed the Government’s new Rwanda partnership.

However, we all knew there would be a battle with lawyers and campaigners who are determined to frustrate the attempts of the democratically-elected Government to implement a policy that has secured broad public support.

I was pleased to hear last Friday that the British courts came to the conclusion that the Government was entirely within its rights to proceed with the Rwanda policy. However, it didn’t come as a huge surprise to me that the European Court of Human Rights took the decision to temporarily postpone the flights on Tuesday evening. Despite this setback, I’m confident that eventually the Government will win out and secure full control of our borders.

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It’s critical for a sizeable number of individuals to be transferred to Rwanda for it to be effective as a deterrent. 


Home Secretary Priti Patel making a statement to MPs in the House of Commons, London, on the Rwanda asylum plan. - Credit: PA

It’s very easy for people to criticise the Home Secretary but the reality is that the array of forces up against her, trying desperately to block a policy that has broad public support, is formidable. And of course, we know what would happen if the Labour Party were in power. Any attempts to tackle illegal immigration would be immediately abandoned and the current status quo would become far worse.

For me it should be rather straightforward. The elected Government wants to carry out a policy that polling shows is supported by the majority. If only it was that simple. There continue to be powerful interests that believe that they can go against this and sadly sometimes they are successful in blocking the wishes of the majority. I really hope this isn’t the case on this occasion.

With regard to the European Convention of Human Rights, though in my view it has strayed slightly from its original purpose and goals over time, I do not think simply leaving it would be an ideal outcome. I think we should try and avoid this path if at all possible.

However, what is also clear in my view, is that it would be an unacceptable outcome for us to be subscribed to a Convention or treaty that prevented us from being able to control our borders and therefore being a sovereign country.

It’s always been my view that unless you have the ability to control your own borders, it’s very hard to claim you’re a sovereign country. It’s one of the reasons I voted to leave the EU and I believe it's one of the major reasons the majority of people in Ipswich voted to leave the EU.

I imagine it enraged many to see a policy, promoted by the democratically-elected Government, supported by the majority of the public in polls and essentially okayed by the highest courts in the land, being struck down by an anonymous foreign judge at the eleventh hour.

I’m hopeful that this is only a matter of delaying the first flights and I’m pleased the determination of the Government to deliver this policy remains unwavering.

The Lord Chancellor is currently carrying out a review of all human rights legislation and intends to introduce a new British Bill of Rights.

I’m hopeful that this work will enable us to deliver the Rwanda policy whilst remaining as a signatory to the European Convention of Human Rights, however, failing this, I’m pleased that as far as the Government is concerned all options are on the table.

It’s very frustrating that the first flights haven’t already taken off to Rwanda. What I do think the whole episode has shown, however, is that the Labour Party are for all intents and purposes a Party that supports open borders and opposes any kind of border control. 

Just last weekend in Peckham, Immigration Officials attempted to detain an individual who was thought to be in the country illegally and to have committed numerous immigration offences.

Unbelievably, these immigration officers were actually prevented from carrying out their duty to uphold the law of the land by a number of aggressive protestors.

What really wasn’t a surprise for many was when the revelation that one of the key organisers of this protest was a Labour councillor and that scores of Labour MPs have applauded the aggressive protest that prevented the law of the land from being upheld.

There could not be a sharper dividing line when it comes to us and the Labour Party on this issue. We’re in favour of legal, controlled immigration. The Labour Party increasingly appear to be in favour of uncontrolled illegal immigration. I think the people can see that clearly and ultimately we will all come to our own conclusions about who we side with. 

- Tom Hunt is the Conservative MP for Ipswich.