United Kingdom Prime Minister Rishi Sunak claimed to have gotten locked out of 10 Downing Street when he met Dutch premier Mark Rutte to discuss ‘the scourge of illegal migration’ and the UK’s Rwanda policy.
Mark Rutte’s coalition government collapsed following a row over immigration earlier this year after which Geert Wilders secured victory in the Dutch general election last month.
A 10 Downing Street spokesman said, “The leaders discussed a range of geopolitical issues, including the situation in the Middle East. They expressed regret at the breakdown of the pause in fighting to release hostages and agreed that it was vital that more aid was able to get into Gaza, including by exploring new routes. They also agreed on the critical importance of preventing regional escalation and a unified effort to prevent attempts to threaten maritime security.”
Rishi Sunak “reflected on his recent conversations with President Zelensky and reiterated that support for our Ukrainian allies must remain steadfast throughout the winter and beyond”, the spokesman said.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was under pressure Friday to explain why Britain has paid Rwanda 240 million pounds ($300 million) as part of a blocked asylum plan, without a single person being sent to the East African country.
The total is almost twice the 140 million pounds that Britain previously said it had handed to the Rwandan government under a deal struck in April 2022. Under the agreement, migrants who reach Britain across the English Channel would be sent to Rwanda, where their asylum claims would be processed and, if successful, they would stay.
The plan was challenged in UK courts, and no flights to Rwanda have taken off. Last month, Britain’s Supreme Court ruled the policy was illegal because Rwanda isn’t a safe country for refugees.
The Rwanda plan is central to the UK government’s self-imposed goal to stop unauthorized asylum-seekers from trying to reach England from France in small boats. More than 29,000 people have done so this year, compared to 46,000 in 2022.
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Published: 09 Dec 2023, 05:26 PM IST