Channel boat tragedy hours after Rwanda go-ahead: The Standard podcast

 (Gareth Fuller/PA Wire)
(Gareth Fuller/PA Wire)

From Westminster, The Standard podcast’s Mark Blunden is joined in the Commons by Evening Standard political editor Nicholas Cecil.

Rishi Sunak’s controversial Rwanda Bill was today brought into stark focus following the deaths of at least five migrants - including a seven-year-old girl - who were trying to cross the English Channel.

French police and coastguard said the fatalities included three men, a woman and the young girl.

They were among 112 people packed aboard the small boat when panic broke out at sea.

The Channel tragedy occurred as migrants tried to reach the UK from the French coast near the town of Wimereux.

It came after late-night votes in Parliament, as Sunak finally saw his Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill getting voted through.

The legislative go-ahead will set in motion plans for deporting asylum seekers who entered the UK “illegally” on one-way flights to east-central Africa while claims for refugee status are assessed.

Yesterday, the Lords was engaged in an extended back-and-forth over the Bill, returning it to the Commons five times in a bid to secure changes - including assurances not to deport Afghan veterans who assisted British troops.

Ahead of the vote, the Prime Minister said the first planes would take off within 10 to 12 weeks, but has refused to say how many people could be aboard commercial charter flights.

It’s been suggested the £370 million deal with the Rwandan government could end up costing £1.8 million for every one of the first 300 people flown out of the UK.

So, what’s next, what are the legal hurdles - and what happens to this Conservative legislation if Labour wins power?

Listen above, or wherever you find your podcasts.