The Rwanda Bill concludes it’s second reading in the Lords but there will be significant amendments to the Government’s flagship policy during committee stage, Alicia Edmund asks how can we be a Christian witness in this issue?
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Since the referendum vote to leave the European Union the issue of immigration and parliamentary sovereignty have dominated news headlines and the legislative timetable in Westminster.
Within four years the conservative government have passed the Nationality and Borders Act 2022 and the Illegal Migration Act 2023. Together they remove the right to seek asylum in the UK as protected in the Refugee Convention. They also grant home office officials powers to treat those who enter the UK through irregular means – small boats crossings or otherwise, differently.
Within four years the Conservative Government have passed the Nationality and Borders Act 2022 and the Illegal Migration Act 2023
The Rwanda Bill goes one step further by giving the Government and home office officials unilateral powers to remove an individual to Rwanda whilst stating adults and children seeking safety in the UK and threatened with removal cannot have a domestic court consider their case where human rights appeal has been made.
In a press briefing the Prime Minister urged the Lords to not “defy the will of the people” by overruling the Commons vote, but is Sunak correct in his analysis?
It would seem that public support for the Rwanda Bill is waning or at least the public are unsure that this is the right approach to tackling the small boats crisis.
In a YovGov poll published earlier this month only 20% of British adults were in support, whilst 40% felt it should be scrapped entirely and a further 23% were unsure. It would seem that public support for the Rwanda Bill is waning or at least that this is the right approach to tackling the small boats crisis.
Opposition to the Bill is growing in the Lord’s, but why?
In part it is due to the UK Supreme Court’s judgement unanimous ruling in November 2023 where the Rwanda scheme was judged as unlawful on the grounds of refoulement, i.e., to remove a person to another country where they are at risk of torture or persecution.
The second is because of growing outcry from different civil society groups.
Prior to the second reading, over 260 charitable organisations, including faith groups signed a joint statement calling for Peers to vote against second reading because it undermines international laws and strips away the dignity and legal protections for those seeking refugee in our UK courts.
During the six hour debate several peers described the bill as “immoral”, “cruel” and “dehumanising” and warned there will be significant alterations at Committee Stage.
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How to be a Christian witness on this issue
Throughout the Bible there is an overarching command to both care for the stranger and the vulnerable in our society (Leviticus 19:34, Matthew 25:31-40) and to respect authority (John 19:11 and Romans 13). Our Christian witness must hold both in tension.
Let’s be encouraged to speak up passionately for the needs and welfare of those most affected by this policy whilst avoiding language that divides or reduces those of different political persuasion as racist or xenophobic. Before Christ, both our motives and our deeds should be honouring to him. (Colossians 3:17).