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Rishi Sunak’s controversial Rwanda bill becomes law after receiving royal assent | Politics News

The government’s controversial Rwanda bill has finally become law after it received royal assent today.

The scheme, which seeks to deport asylum seekers arriving in the UK via small boats to Rwanda, was passed by parliament this week following a series of setbacks and delays.

Rishi Sunak has promised the first flights will take off in “10 to 12 weeks” – “come what may”.

It comes after Downing Street said the government had now booked the first flight to Rwanda and identified the first group of people to deport.

“We have identified the initial cohort, we are now contracting on resources like case workers, judiciary spaces,” they said.

The Lord Speaker has told the House of Lords that the bill had received royal assent – the process by which the King agrees to make the bill into an Act of Parliament and therefore law.

The legislation, now known as the Safety of Rwanda Act, was passed earlier this week after the House of Lords agreed to back down from its opposition to the legislation in deference to the elected Commons chamber.

For weeks, peers had been pushing back on the scheme and trying to get ministers to make changes to the controversial legislation.

The first stumbling block the plan received was last year, when the Supreme Court ruled the plan “unlawful” over concerns that asylum seekers would be at risk of being returned to their country of origin where they could face persecution.

Shortly before the bill was passed in parliament, Mr Sunak held a press conference in which he said teams across government were “working flat out to deliver this genuine game changer” – with an airfield on standby and booked commercial charter planes to get the first flights off to the African nation.

The prime minister described his plan as an “indispensable deterrent ” that removes the incentive for people to make the dangerous Channel crossing.

He declined at the time to give operational details due to the “loud minority of people who will do absolutely anything and everything to disrupt this policy from succeeding” – but promised there would be a “regular rhythm” of “multiple flights a month through the summer and beyond”.

Royal assent paves the way for deportation flights to get off the ground – but does mean there will not be further obstacles in the form of legal challenges, which one minister admitted were “inevitable”.

After the bill was accepted by the Lords, Freedom From Torture, Amnesty International and Liberty said the UK was increasingly gaining a reputation for “playing fast and loose with its international obligations”.

A spokesperson for the organisations said: “We all deserve the chance to live a safe life, and to seek protection when we need it most. This shameful Bill trashes the constitution and international law whilst putting torture survivors and other refugees at risk of an unsafe future in Rwanda.

“No matter how many times the prime minister says so, we know this is not the will of the people.”

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