Rishi Sunak spoke in an interview with the BBC about his time as Chancellor, where he questioned the feasibility of the Rwanda scheme despite being a strong supporter of the scheme during his time as Prime Minister. What does this mean?
Sunak’s Change In Stance Revealed
A recent revelation has shed light on Rishi Sunak’s tenure as Chancellor, where he admitted to harbouring scepticism about the financial viability of the Rwanda deportation scheme.
The doubts surfaced through undisclosed Downing Street documents from March 2022, just before the controversial plan to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda was introduced. Despite these reservations, Sunak, now the Prime Minister, has become a vocal supporter of the scheme, using it as a key policy differentiator against the Labour Party.
Value for Money or Deterrence?
The unreleased documents suggest that Sunak expressed concerns regarding the effectiveness of the Rwandan scheme, stating a belief that the “deterrent won’t work.” Additionally, he reportedly proposed a lower number of migrants, suggesting around 500 in the first year instead of the initially discussed 1,500.
In response to these claims, Sunak, now Prime Minister, stressed his responsibility as Chancellor to scrutinize proposals for taxpayers’ money. He stated, “My job is to ask probing questions of every proposal that crosses my desk as Chancellor. Whether you have doubts about it or not, you shouldn’t come to it with a preconceived notion that everything is fine when you’re spending taxpayers’ money. Of course you shouldn’t.”
Sunak’s Shift in Stance
Despite initial reservations, Sunak, since assuming the role of Prime Minister, has championed the Rwanda deportation scheme, positioning it as a key component of his policy agenda. Notably, he has used the scheme to draw a sharp contrast with the Labour Party, which has pledged to abolish the policy if it gains power.
When questioned about his change in stance, Sunak stated, “But to infer from that, that I don’t believe in the scheme or the principle of deterrence is wrong. I was doing my job to get good value for money for taxpayers,” before admitting, “I went through that process, funded this scheme with the Prime Minister and as Prime Minister myself, as you can see, I’ve made sure that we have a similar deterrence working with Albania.”
Albania Scheme and Legal Gridlock
The Albania scheme exemplifies Sunak’s commitment to deterrence, a returns agreement aimed at curbing the influx of migrants crossing the English Channel. “And I’ve made the point, actually, that it’s because Albania is working that we should have confidence that the Rwanda scheme will work too,” Sunak argued.
This agreement, initiated in December 2022, has seen over 1,000 Albanian nationals voluntarily return to their home country. In contrast, the Rwanda deportation scheme has faced legal challenges, with no flights taking off since its announcement over 18 months ago.
The Prime Minister is currently pushing for legislative changes to fortify the scheme’s legality after it was deemed unlawful by the Supreme Court.
NHS Waiting Lists and Industrial Action
Shifting focus from immigration, the Prime Minister also addressed the issue of rising NHS waiting lists. Despite naming it a top priority, the waiting list for NHS treatment has soared to 7 million people. Sunak attributed part of the delay to ongoing industrial action by junior doctors, criticizing them for rejecting a generous pay offer.
Sunak expressed a desire to reduce taxes, stressed the need for welfare reform related to sick leave claims, and pledged to pursue companies that defrauded the taxpayer in PPE contracts during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Prime Minister urged critics to recognize the progress made, asserting that the government’s plan is working.
In response to the revelations, the Labour Party called for the release of the undisclosed Downing Street documents. Labour’s Home Secretary, Yvette Cooper, urged transparency, stating, “It’s time the Tory Government was honest with the public.”
The post Rwanda Deportation Scheme: Sunak’s Transformation From Sceptic to Staunch Supporter first appeared on Edge Media.
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