Activists accuse Patel of ‘racist and inhumane’ Rwanda policy at dinner

The Home Secretary was speaking at the Bassetlaw Conservatives Spring Dinner on Friday.

Isobel Frodsham
Saturday 07 May 2022 18:31
Home Secretary Priti Patel was criticised at a Conservative dinner on Friday evening (Yui Mok/PA)
Home Secretary Priti Patel was criticised at a Conservative dinner on Friday evening (Yui Mok/PA)

Activists accused Priti Patel of “racist” and “inhumane” policies over Government plans to send migrants to Rwanda during her appearance at a Conservative party dinner.

The Home Secretary was speaking at the Bassetlaw Conservatives Spring Dinner in Nottinghamshire on Friday when several activists stood up on their chairs and began denouncing Ms Patel for the policy.

The plan – which has received criticism and legal challenges – will see the East African nation receive asylum seekers deemed by the UK to have arrived “illegally”.

Footage published on Twitter by campaigning group Green New Deal shows a woman stand up and tell Ms Patel: “Priti Patel, your racist policies are killing people.

“Your plans to send people seeking asylum to Rwanda are inhumane, they’re inhumane and are going to ruin people’s lives.”

The crowd at the dinner then began booing the activist, and shouting for her to “sit down” while she was led away by a man.

Another activist stands up, telling Ms Patel the group was “disgusted by your [her] treatment of refugees in the UK”.

Three other activists stand up and make statements before the group chants “Say it loud, say it clear, refugees are welcome here” as they are led out of the venue.

Holly Hudson, 27, a Green New Deal Rising activist who was part of the protest, said: “I want to grow up in a society that cares and respects people wherever they come from. I am disgusted by Priti Patel’s Rwanda plan and her immigration policies. They are violent, illegal and inhumane and have been condemned across society.

“This bill is a direct act of harm to those seeking safety. Whoever we are, we all deserve safety and compassion and that’s why we took action today.”

Hannah Martin, from Green New Deal Rising, added: “The plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda is inhumane and will lead to the destruction of people’s lives and further harm those people who are seeking safety.

A group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover by the RNLI (Gareth Fuller/PA)

“Those who stand for climate justice also stand against Priti Patel’s cruel plans that demonise people who are escaping terrifying situations as they bear the brunt of the multiple crises of war, poverty and the climate catastrophe.

“These crises in the Global South are the direct result of centuries of exploitation by wealthy countries, such as the UK. We believe it is the responsibility of our Government to provide safety for people facing these situations.

“We want Priti Patel to drop the dangerous Rwanda migration plan and provide support and safety for migrants, refugees and people seeking asylum.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson previously described the partnership between Rwanda and the UK as a “very, very sensible thing”, adding it is a “great deal between two countries, each helping the other”.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “The world-leading Migration Partnership will overhaul our broken asylum system, which is currently costing the UK taxpayer £1.5 billion a year – the highest amount in two decades.

“It means those arriving dangerously, illegally or unnecessarily can be relocated to have their asylum claims considered and, if recognised as refugees, build their lives there.

“Our new Migration and Economic Development Partnership with Rwanda fully complies with international and national law.”

Brendan Clarke-Smith, the Conservative MP for Bassetlaw, said he was “sorry” the activists had to leave the event early as they “missed an excellent speech” by Ms Patel.

Replying to the video on Twitter, he said: “I would like to thank all of those who contributed towards our highly successful fundraising efforts in Bassetlaw at the heart of the former red wall, including the significant sums we received from these guests from outside the area.

“I am sorry they had to leave early as they missed an excellent speech by @pritipatel, great food and wonderful company.

“This will help us take back control of Bassetlaw District Council, ensure we re-elect a Conservative MP and return another Conservative Government who are committed to maintaining a tough but fair immigration system, as is overwhelmingly supported by my constituents.”

The council, which is Labour, was not part of Thursday’s local elections as its last election was in 2019.

Bassetlaw Conservatives have been contacted for comment.

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