17 March 2024

Public backs Lords in clash with government on Rwanda bill – new poll

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Prime Minister Rishi Sunak invoked the 'will of the people' when warning the Lords not to delay his Rwanda Bill in parliament. Now new polling from British Future finds the public supports amendments proposed by the House of Lords – and most people think the government should allow amendments or scrap the Bill altogether.

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As the government’s Safety of Rwanda Bill returns to the House of Commons on Monday 18 March, a new poll for British Future finds up to three quarters of the public support amendments made to the Bill by the House of Lords.

The research by Focaldata finds majority public support for almost all of the amendments proposed by the Lords, with less than 20% of the public disagreeing with the Lords on most of the amendments.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak had sparked controversy by issuing a warning to the House of Lords against frustrating the “will of the people” by amending or delaying the Safety of Rwanda Bill. But six in ten people (61%) – including 55% of Conservative voters – think the government should either accept some amendments to the Rwanda policy or scrap it altogether. Only a quarter of the public (24%) thinks the government should try to get the Rwanda Bill through in its current form.

The new research finds that 75% of the public agrees with the Lords amendment proposing that “There should be a system in place to check that the UK and Rwanda have implemented safeguards set out in the treaty they signed,” one of the amendments made to the Bill by peers earlier this month.

Some 64% agree with the Lords amendment insisting that the government complies with domestic and international law with regard to the Rwanda scheme. A further 59% back an amendment by former Defence Secretary Lord Des Browne, insisting that people seeking asylum because they worked with the UK Armed Forces, for instance in Afghanistan, should not be forcibly removed to Rwanda. An amendment that people should be able to challenge in court the presumption that Rwanda is safe, if new and credible evidence emerges, is backed by 57% of the public.

Majorities of Conservative voters support amendments proposing a system to check treaty safeguards are in place (76%); that Rwanda is only treated as safe once the treaty has been implemented and is being adhered to (64%); that the government should comply fully with domestic and international law (58%); and that people seeking asylum after working for UK Armed Forces should not be sent to Rwanda (57%).

Sunder Katwala, Director of thinktank British Future, said:

“The Rwanda scheme has split public opinion, for and against – but what this research finds is a consensus that if you want to deem Rwanda safe, you first have to check that it is.

“Rishi Sunak invoked the ‘will of the people’ to warn the Lords against delaying this Rwanda Bill. But the public backs the amendments proposed by the Lords. Abiding by the law, allowing credible new evidence to be heard in court and fully implementing the governments’ own treaty are seen as common-sense measures.”


Public support for Lords amendments to Safety of Rwanda Bill

Question: The House of Lords has proposed the following amendments to the Safety of Rwanda Bill, which the House of Commons must now consider. To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following amendments to the Bill?


Should the government accept amendments on Rwanda, pass the Bill as it is or scrap the Rwanda scheme altogether?

Question: From what you have read or heard about the government’s proposal to send some migrants entering Britain to Rwanda and the BIll now going through Parliament, do you think the government should…?


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