Less than a quarter of the public back Rwanda Bill in current form, poll finds

The Rwanda Bill returns to the House of Commons on Monday, as the prime minister attempts to drive the legislation through parliament and begin deportation flights in the coming months. 

It comes after the bill suffered a series of heavy setbacks in the House of Lords, with ministers having lost several votes with unusually large margins of about 100.

Ahead of a looming showdown in the commons, a new poll has found that less than a quarter of the public backs the government’s Safety of Rwanda Bill in its present form.

Only 24 per cent of the public think the government should try to get the Rwanda Bill through in its current form, according to the new Focaldata research for the think tank British Future.

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Six in ten people (61 per cent) — including 55 per cent of Conservative voters — think the government should either accept some amendments to the Bill or scrap it altogether.

The new research finds that 75 per cent of the public agrees “There should be a system in place to check that the UK and Rwanda have implemented safeguards set out in the treaty they signed” — one of the amendments made to the Bill by peers earlier this month.

On top of this, some 64 per cent agree with the Lords amendment insisting that the government complies with domestic and international law with regard to the Rwanda scheme. 

A further 59 per cent back an amendment by former defence secretary Lord Des Browne, insisting that people seeking asylum because they worked with the UK Armed Forces, for instance in Afghanistan, should not be forcibly removed to Rwanda. 

An amendment that people should be able to challenge in court the presumption that Rwanda is safe, if new and credible evidence emerges, is backed by 57 per cent of the public.

Presently, the Rwanda Bill is poised to go through an extended tussle between the commons and the Lords known as “ping-pong”, whereby peers and MPs bat legislation between both Houses until an agreement is reached. 

The bill, as written, is intended to prevent further legal challenges to the stalled deportation scheme after the supreme court ruled the plan was unlawful.

It also currently gives ministers the power to ignore emergency injunctions from the European Court of Human Rights, aiming at clearing the way to send asylum seekers on flights to Rwanda by spring.

Commenting on the poll’s findings, Director of thinktank British Future Sunder Katwala said: “The Rwanda scheme has split public opinion, for and against – but what this research finds is a consensus that if you want to deem Rwanda safe, you first have to check that it is.

“Rishi Sunak invoked the ‘will of the people’ to warn the Lords against delaying this Rwanda Bill. But the public backs the amendments proposed by the Lords. Abiding by the law, allowing credible new evidence to be heard in court and fully implementing the governments’ own treaty are seen as common-sense measures.”

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