Sending migrants to Rwanda ‘a cataclysmic waste’ of taxpayers’ money, says SNP

Home affairs spokesman Stuart McDonald called on Westminster to drop the plan.

Lucinda Cameron
Sunday 17 April 2022 09:13
(Gareth Fuller/PA)
(Gareth Fuller/PA)

The UK Government’s plan to send migrants to Rwanda is a “cataclysmic waste of taxpayers’ money”, the SNP has said.

The party’s home affairs spokesman Stuart McDonald MP described it as an “abhorrent policy” and called on Westminster to drop the plan and use the money to support people hit by the cost-of-living crisis.

UK Home Secretary Priti Patel signed her “world-first” agreement with the east African nation on Thursday, which will see it receive asylum seekers deemed by the UK to have arrived “illegally” and therefore inadmissible under new immigration rules.

Every single person making the perilous journey across the English Channel should be treated with dignity and compassion

Stuart McDonald MP

Those who are deemed to have entered Britain by unlawful means since January 1 may be sent to Rwanda where they will be permitted to apply for asylum there.

Mr McDonald said: “The UK Government’s decision to proceed with this abhorrent policy is utterly shameful and will only add to the pain and suffering being felt by those fleeing their homeland.

“Every single person making the perilous journey across the English Channel should be treated with dignity and compassion – something this Tory Government are completely devoid of.

“However, not only is this morally wrong, it is a cataclysmic waste of taxpayers’ money.

Stuart McDonald (Chris McAndrew/UK Parliament/PA)

“At a time when all four nations are facing the brunt of a Tory-made cost-of-living crisis, it beggars belief that the UK Government are willing to spend hundreds of millions, rising to billions, on an abhorrent policy that achieves nothing in return.

“Instead, Boris Johnson and his Tory Government should follow Scotland’s lead and use this money to put cash into the pockets of families which, in turn, will help lift thousands of children out of poverty.

“Scotland has a strong and proud record of welcoming refugees and will continue to stand by and offer sanctuary to those who need it.”

The Government policy has drawn criticism from opposition parties and charities, but the Home Office has defended the plan.

Ms Patel said she expected other countries to follow the UK’s example, while the Home Office insisted its approach was not in breach of refugee agreements.

A spokeswoman for the Home Office said: “Our broken asylum system is currently costing the UK taxpayer £1.5bn a year – the highest amount in two decades.

“This world-leading migration partnership will overhaul the UK’s broken asylum system. It means those arriving dangerously, illegally or unnecessarily into the UK can be relocated to have their claims for asylum considered and, if recognised as refugees, to build their lives there.

“There is nothing in the UN Refugee Convention which prevents removal to a safe country. Under this agreement, Rwanda will process claims in accordance with national and international human rights laws and the convention.”

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