Keir Starmer Mocks Rishi Sunak For Sending More Home Secretaries To Rwanda Than Migrants

It came after James Cleverly became the latest minister to visit the east African country to sign an immigration deal.
Sunak and Starmer clashed at PMQs
Sunak and Starmer clashed at PMQs
UK Parliament

Keir Starmer has mocked Rishi Sunak for sending more cabinet ministers to Rwanda than asylum seekers.

The Labour leader’s comments came after James Cleverly became the third home secretary to visit the east African country to sign an immigration deal.

In that time, no migrants have been deported to Rwanda, despite it being a key plank of the prime minister’s pledge to “stop the boats” carrying asylum seekers across the English Channel.

At prime minister’s questions today, Starmer said: “If the purpose of the Rwanda gimmick was to solve a political headache of the Tories’ own making, to get people out of the country that they simply couldn’t deal with, then it’s been a resounding success.

“After all, they’ve managed to send three home secretaries there - an achievement for which the whole country can be grateful.

“So apart from members of his own cabinet, how many people has the prime minister sent to Rwanda?”

After the PM dodged the question, Starmer went on to point out that under the terms of the treaty Cleverly agreed with Rwanda, the UK will also accept some refugees from the east African country.

The treaty also states that if any migrants sent to Rwanda commit a crime, they will then be sent back to the UK.

And it makes clear that the British government will pay for each migrants’ accommodation and upkeep for five years.

That is on top of the £140 million the government has already paid to Rwanda for setting up the scheme.

Starmer said: “What does he first think attracted [Rwandan president Paul] Kagame to hundreds of millions of pounds for nothing in return?”

He added: “You have to give credit to the Rwandan government. They saw this prime minister coming a mile off.

“You can only imagine their delight, their sheer disbelief, when having already banked £140m of British taxpayer money without housing a single asylum seeker, the prime minister appears again with another offer they can’t refuse.

“A gimmick that will send taxpayers’ money to Rwanda, refugees from Rwanda to Britain and won’t stop the boats.

“There was mention of Margaret Thatcher earlier. How can the Tory Party go from ‘up yours Delors’ to ’take our money, Kagame?”

But Sunak insisted the government was “getting on and delivering a new treaty with Rwanda [and] the toughest ever measures to tackle legal migration”.


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