More than a year after the idea was first floated, the plan to fly asylum seekers who arrive here via “illegal” means to the East African country is yet to actually deport a single person.
But, Sunak’s government is still determined to make it work. In fact, Downing Street has awarded £240 million to Rwanda so far, with another £50 million “anticipated” for 2024 – and a further £50 million in 2026.
Still, the bill is facing yet another crunch week in parliament – and the PM is even risking a Tory rebellion as some backbenchers want the bill to be even stricter than it currently is.
Conservatives like backbencher Simon Clarke have defended the focus on the policy by claiming voters wanted to “change Britain for the better” when they backed the Tories in 2019. But, the Rwanda policy was not in the 2019 manifesto.
And, this policy is still dominating politics even as the cost of living crisis rumbles on and two major wars rage.
So it’s not exactly surprising people on X (formerly Twitter) wish the government would start looking at some other pressing issues....
1. Action on poverty
Inflation has finally fallen in recent months, but the cost of living crisis still means 6.3 million households will still be in fuel poverty this winter and so can’t heat their homes, according to National Energy Action.
But, the government chose not to extend the £400 energy support scheme this year.
2. Provisions to help the changing climate
As experts have repeatedly pointed out, the climate crisis means we’re likely to see wetter winters, and more frequent and intense weather extremes.
A report by the National Audit Office in December found the UK government is not sufficiently prepared for climate disasters like droughts or floods.
It also found the Cabinet Office, meant to co-ordinate departments’ response, “does not have clearly defined targets or an effective strategy in place to make the UK resilient to extreme weather”.
3. Help for the NHS
The struggles of the NHS have been well documented over the years. After a pandemic and ongoing NHS strikes over low pay and working conditions, the health service is barely surviving.
Junior doctors walked out for six days at the start of the year – the longest industrial action the NHS has ever seen.
Health secretary Victoria Atkins has just maintained that she would negotiate only if they adopted “reasonable expectations” over potential pay rises.
4. Root causes of migration addressed
Crises around the world have contributed to the growing number of migrants trying to leave their home countries.
Poverty, poor healthcare, and struggling education systems, mean people look for opportunities elsewhere – like in the UK.
The government cut international aid significantly in 2020 amid the Covid pandemic – and it is not expected to increase again until at least after 2027/28.