Yvette Cooper tears into Priti Patel over Rwanda scheme
BBC Parliament

The Conservative government’s controversial deal to send asylum seekers to Rwanda has been widely condemned by those within politics and those outside it.

The latest person to rip into the scheme and Priti Patel is Labour's shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper, who responded to a parliamentary statement made by the home secretary.

Speaking in the Commons, Cooper began her takedown of the scheme by describing it as an “unworkable, shameful and desperate attempt to distract from the prime minister's lawbreaking”, as the PM was recently fined by the police for breaching his own Covid lockdown rules and forced to apologise.

The Labour shadow home secretary continued, saying that the policy was “unworkable, unethical and extortionate” and asserted that the cost to the British taxpayer would be huge.

Cooper addressed a question to Patel, saying: “Will she admit that the £120m she’s announced doesn’t pay for a single person to be transferred?

“She hasn’t actually got an agreement on the price for each person. In fact, the £120m is the eye-watering price the Home Office is paying just for a press release.”

Cooper then went on to criticise the way the Home Office is being run under Patel’s watch, arguing that the department is handling far fewer claims than previously, resulting in astronomical housing costs while asylum seekers await a decision.

Cooper continued: “The only reason we’re paying a fortune in hotel costs is because the Home Office decision-making has totally collapsed.

“On her watch, the Home Office are only taking 14,000 initial asylum decisions a year – that is half what they were doing five years ago. Half…

“The costs to the UK taxpayer have soared by hundreds of millions of pounds because she isn’t capable of taking the basic asylum decisions."

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Cooper argued Patel is “trying to pay Rwanda to take those decisions instead”.

While Patel attempted to defend the scheme, claiming that “fairness” was central to it, she has also received pushback from some within her own party.

Former prime minister Theresa May said she would not support the plan “on the grounds of legality, practicality and efficacy”.

May also shared concerns that it may actually lead to an increase in the trafficking of women and children.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has also condemned the Rwanda scheme, saying it is “against the judgement of God”.

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