Former Head of the British Army attacks plan to send migrants to Rwanda

Lord, General Dannatt, the former British Army Chief, has joined a growing chorus of senior Tory figures in condemning the Home Secretary’s plans to send small boat migrant arrivals to Rwanda. He said:

‘It’s somewhat surprising Suella Braverman is persisting with an unpopular policy…I fail to understand why the Home Secretary is continuing to run down the remaining capital of Rishi Sunak’s government.’

Rwanda still lives in the shadow of genocide

Whilst Lord Dannatt expressed an understanding of the government’s need to curb the influx of economic migrants ‘and those ‘simply seeking a better life’, he was completely at odds with the idea that threatening to send migrants to Rwanda as a policy to deter others from coming. Rwanda, he said still lives in the shadow of genocide and:

‘It’s got a pretty dark history, and it’s not the sort of environment I would put people from Syria and elsewhere in the world into…it’s ruled with a very firm hand by Paul Kagame.’

Lord Dannatt was not alone in his criticism of the Home Secretary. Lord Heseltine in reference to the language being used in the debate on the illegal migrants bill in particular by the Home Secretary, said:  

‘This is not the Conservative Party I joined, and there is a very nasty flavour of commentary beginning to develop…I think the party to which I belonged, to which I still belong, understands the basic tolerance of colour, class and creed is fundamental to decency and human behavior…I was deeply concerned at the implication that somehow there is a different sort of human being that is seeking refuge in this country.’

He comments echoed earlier statements made by former Tory Grandee and former Conservative Party Leader, Sir Ian Duncan Smith, who accused the illegal migration bill of:

‘targeting a group of people that are not the problem’

The Former Prime Minister, Theresa May, during the recent debate on the bill, had asked what message the bill will communicate to genuine asylum seekers and those attempting to escape from slave traffickers. She said:

‘All the British Government will do is send you away, probably to Rwanda’

“Don’t even think about trying to escape from the misery of your life, from the suffering we are subjecting you to, because all that the UK Government will do is send you away, probably to Rwanda.” 

Lord Dannatt’s comments came as leaked news suggested that the government was entertaining the use of the rarely used ‘Parliament Act’, to bypass and overrule the House of Lords, in the event that there was an attempt to block or water down the ‘small boats bill’ in any meaningful way in the House of Lords next week. The idea is to use the Parliament Act to force the Illegal Migration Bill into legislation, albeit subject to a mandated 12 month delay after which it would need to be passed by the House of Commons once again separately. One conservative MP branded this idea as GCSE–level politics. There have even been separate talks about speeding up the process of stacking the House of Lords with an additional 50 Conservative peers (which coincides with the number of people nominated by the former Prime Minister Boris Johnson in his honours list) to ensure that the bill passes without any major disruptions.

Judging from the voracity of statements made thus far, the scrutiny of the bill in the House of Lords, which begins this week on Wednesday 10th May, is likely to be a heated event.  


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