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The new UK prime minister cancels one of the most controversial plans of the Conservatives

The new UK prime minister cancels one of the most controversial plans of the Conservatives
The new UK prime minister cancels one of the most controversial plans of the Conservatives

By Andrew MacAskill and Sachin Ravikumar, Reuters.- The new British Prime Minister, Keir Starmer, He said on Saturday that would scrap a controversial plan to send thousands of asylum seekers from the UK to Rwandain his first major political announcement since winning a landslide election victory.

The former Conservative government announced plans in 2022 to send migrants who arrived in Britain illegally to the East African nation, saying it would put an end to asylum seekers arriving in small boats.

But no one was sent to Rwanda under the plan due to years of legal challenges.

In his first press conference since taking office, Starmer said the Rwanda policy would be scrapped because it would have only returned around 1% of asylum seekers and would not have served as a deterrent.

“The Rwanda plan was dead and buried before it started. It has never been a deterrent,” Starmer said. “I am not prepared to continue with shenanigans that do not act as a deterrent.”

Starmer won one of the largest parliamentary majorities in modern British history on Friday, making him the most powerful British leader since former Prime Minister Tony Blair, but faces a host of challenges including improving struggling public services and reviving a weak economy.

At the press conference held in Downing Street, Starmer answered a dozen questions and was repeatedly asked how and when he would start delivering on his promises to fix the nation’s problems, but gave few details about what he was planning.

Asked whether he was prepared to take tough decisions and raise taxes if necessary, Starmer said his government would identify problems and act in areas such as tackling an overcrowded prison system and reducing long waiting times for the state-run health service.

“We’re going to have to make the tough decisions and make them soon, and we will do that. We will do that with raw honesty,” he said. “But that’s not some sort of prelude to saying there’s some fiscal decision we haven’t talked about before.”

Starmer said he would set up and chair separate “mission delivery boards” to focus on so-called priority areas such as the health service and economic growth.

Electoral issue

The question of how to stop asylum seekers crossing from France was one of the main issues of the six-week election campaign.

While its supporters claim it would end the model of human traffickers, critics have argued that Rwanda’s policy was immoral and would never work.

Last November, the UK Supreme Court declared the policy unlawful, saying Rwanda could not be considered a safe third country, prompting ministers to sign a new treaty with the East African country and pass new legislation to override it.

The legality of this measure has been challenged in court by charities and trade unions.

The British government has already given the Rwandan government hundreds of millions of pounds to create shelters and hire additional officials to process asylum seekers – money it cannot get back.

Starmer has said his government would create a Border Security Command that would bring together staff from the police, domestic intelligence agency and prosecution service to work with international agencies to stop people smuggling.

Sonya Sceats, chief executive of Freedom from Torture, one of the many organisations and charities that have campaigned to stop the Rwanda plan, welcomed Starmer’s announcement on Saturday.

“We applaud Keir Starmer for acting immediately to shut the door on this shameful plan that played politics with the lives of people fleeing torture and persecution,” he said.

Source: Ambito

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