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'The Ritz would be cheaper': David Lammy blasts 'morally bankrupt' Rwanda refugee deal
15 April 2022, 12:56 | Updated: 15 April 2022, 12:58
This was David Lammy's stark reaction to the government's "morally bankrupt" deal to send some asylum seekers arriving in the UK to a facility in Rwanda.
It comes after Boris Johnson announced the Royal Navy will take over from Border Force for patrols of the English Channel, as plans to send people to Rwanda drew heavy criticism.
Unveiling the radical proposals at a speech in Kent, Mr Johnson also announced that people who risk the lives of others in the Channel will face life in jail under new laws.
David Lammy reflected on Australia's offshore processing of migrants, saying in the first year after it was introduced "government figures showed that more people arrived in Australia by boat seeking asylum than at any time in history.
"The system failed so badly that no new asylum seeker or refugee has been sent to offshore processing since 2014.
"So despite the moral, practical, and financial failure of the Australian system, yesterday, Boris Johnson our Prime Minister, announced that refugees arriving in UK waters after fleeing persecution, war, and famine, will be herded onto planes and sent to 4000 miles away to Rwanda.
"We are sending asylum seekers to a country with a very concerning human rights record, that this same government warned about as recently as last year."
David pointed out that "Australia has sent £5.5bn processing just over 3000 people since July 2013. That equates to over £1.7m per asylum seeker... As a Tory MP pointed out, it would be cheaper to put people up in The Ritz."
Migrants arriving in the UK will be sent more than 6,000 miles under plans to avoid thousands being exploited by "vile people smugglers", Boris Johnson announced.
The proposals to send asylum seekers to Rwanda have been branded "evil" and "despicable" as critics blasted the PM's announcement, saying it simply "will not work."
David concluded: "The shameless criminal in number 10 acts as if he is innocent, while treating refugees like convicts.
"Under Boris Johnson, Britain is crossing its own channel - from lightness to darkness, from sanctuary to hostility, from hope to hate."