Politics latest: Rishi Sunak reacts to latest Channel deaths hours after Rwanda bill passes (2024)

Key points
  • Small boat crossings must stop 'out of compassion more than anything else', PM says
  • Sunak in Poland with chancellor and defence secretary
  • Challenges to Rwanda bill 'inevitable', minister says - but declares government will 'overcome them'
  • Five deaths on migrant boat trying to cross Channel hours after legislation passes
  • Live reporting byBen Bloch


World more volatile and dangerous than at any time since Cold War, Sunak warns

By Beth Rigby, political editor, in Poland

Rishi Sunak warned the world is now "more volatile and dangerous" than at any time since the Cold War, as the prime minister embarked on a trip to Poland and Germany to discuss the threat of expansionist Russia and refocus the world's eyes back on to Ukraine.

Speaking to journalists on the flight over to Poland, the prime minister said we were "unfortunately living in a world that is more dangerous than we've known it in decade, probably more dangerous than the end of the Cold War", adding that this was why it was "important in that we do invest more in our defence and that's what we've been doing".

"My first priority is to keep people safe, and you're right, I have been honest with people that the world is less safe than it has been in decades and my job, indeed my obligation, is to invest to keep the country safe, and that's what I'm doing."

Announcing a further £500m of military support being sent to Ukraine - taking the UK's total support this year to £3bn - the prime minister told journalists he was "proud" the UK had led on supporting Ukraine and also told European allies it was "important" for Europeans to invest in security in these volatile times.

"We're stepping up because that is what the situation demands and requires," he said.

"And if we are joined by other European partners in that it is important that Europeans invest in their own security," he told Sky News.

Read the full story here:


European human rights boss says Rwanda law 'raises major concerns'

By Adam Parsons, Europe Correspondent

The Human Rights Commissioner at the Council of Europe, which includes the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), has criticised the government's Rwanda's bill, saying it "raises major concerns" and has called for key clauses to be reversed.

Michael O'Flaherty, said he was "concerned" about the new law and said the British government should "refrain from removing people under the Rwanda policy".

Mr O'Flaherty, an Irishman who has spent his career working in the field of human rights, took over the role of commissioner earlier this month.

His role is to monitor human rights across the 46 members of the Council of Europe, and to make recommendations.

Although he is impartial, and not connected to the ECHR, the court is part of the Council of Europe.

He said: "Managing asylum and migration is undoubtedly a complex endeavour for states, but it must always be done in full compliance with international standards.

"In this regard, I am concerned that the Rwanda bill enables the implementation of a policy of removing people to Rwanda without any prior assessment of their asylum claims by UK authorities in the majority of cases.

"The United Kingdom government should refrain from removing people under the Rwanda policy and reverse the bill's effective infringement of judicial independence."

He said there was still a danger of migrants being deported from Rwanda back to countries from which they had fled - contrary to international law - and criticised the idea that ministers could decide whether or not to adhere to rulings by the EHCR, saying they are "binding".

He claimed that the Rwanda bill was part of a wider move, among European nations, to "externalise" asylum and migration policy, which he claimed, was "a matter of concern for the global system of protection of the rights of refugees".


PM: Small boat crossings must stop 'out of compassion more than anything else'

Speaking to journalists on the plane to Poland, Rishi Sunak discussed the deaths of at least five people this morning who were trying to cross the Channel on a small boat.

The tragedy occurred just hours after the Rwanda bill cleared its final hurdle in parliament - a scheme the government argues will deter people from making the journey.

He said: "There are reports of sadly yet more tragic deaths in the Channel this morning.

"I think that is just a reminder of why our plan is so important because there's a certain element of compassion about everything that we're doing."

The PM reiterated the government's aim is to "prevent people making these very dangerous crossings", noting people smugglers are "packing more and more people into these unseaworthy dinghies".

He continued: "This is what tragically happens when they push people out to sea and that's why, for matters of compassion more than anything else, we must actually break this business model and end this unfairness of people coming to our country illegally."

Mr Sunak paid tribute to the UK Border Force, as well as the French authorities "who have cooperated as they always do to rescue people".

"But as I said, it underscores why you need a deterrent, very simply.

"People need to know that if they try and come here illegally they won't be able to stay, they'll be returned either to their own country or Rwanda.

"And I'm pleased that the bill has passed through parliament in the face of lots of Labour opposition, it was a late night."


Sunak lands in Poland with Hunt and Shapps

The prime minister has landed in Warsaw, Poland for a visit to meet with his counterpart, Donald Tusk, and the NATO secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg.

The chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, and the defence secretary, Grant Shapps, were also on the plane and are accompanying Rishi Sunak on the visit, it has been revealed.

On the plane, the PM told travelling journalists, including our political editor, Beth Rigby, that the "world is less safe than it has been in some decades".

He said his is "very proud that the UK has led" on support for Ukraine, having announced a fresh package today (more here).

Mr Sunak added: "We are Europe's largest defence spender and one of the few countries that’s consistently met the 2% [of GDP] NATO spending pledge, and today's action is another example of us leading by example."


UN urges UK to reconsider Rwanda plan

By Alexandra Rogers, political reporter

Legal challenges to Rishi Sunak's Rwanda bill are "inevitable", the illegal migration minister has admitted, as human rights organisations called on the government not to put the scheme into force.

Michael Tomlinson said the government wanted to ensure flights get off the ground "as soon as possible" but that there would undoubtedly be challenges to the legislation, which passed around midnight last night after months of parliamentary ping pong.

Following the bill's passage, the United Nations and the Council of Europe urged ministers to reconsider the scheme.

Filippo Grandi, the UN high commissioner for refugees said the bill, which is likely to receive Royal Assent and pass into law this week, marked a "further step away from the UK's long tradition of providing refuge to those in need, in breach of the Refugee Convention".

"Protecting refugees requires all countries - not just those neighbouring crisis zones - to uphold their obligations," he said.

Read more on his comments here:


How many asylum seekers does the UK remove and how much of an impact will the Rwanda scheme have?

By Joely Santa Cruz, data journalist

Rishi Sunak's bill, which aims to revive the stalled Rwanda policy, will finally become law following a very long evening of ping-pong amendments back-and-forth between the Commons and the House of Lords.

Why is this such an important issue for the Conservatives, and how many people are removed from the UK each year?

Enforced removals of rejected asylum seekers are down by 73% since 2010. The scheme will allow the government to send asylum seekers "entering the UK illegally" to Rwanda.

Most of those affected will be people arriving in small boats. The capacity of the proposed facility in Rwanda is 200 people annually, representing just 0.7% of 2023 small boat arrivals.

The clock is ticking for the prime minister to get deportations up and running - but how much of an impact will the scheme have?

Read more here:


Sunak assures Ukraine of UK's 'steadfast support' as he announces £500m military aid package

Rishi Sunak is today unveiling a £500m military aid package to Ukraine in its war against Russia alongside the UK's largest provision of munitions so far.

The PM is jetting off to Poland today where he is expected to formally announce the package, and he will meet with his counterpart and the NATO secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg.

Some 400 vehicles, 60 boats, 1,600 strike and air defence missiles, and four million rounds of ammunition are included in the package.

The announcement comes during a downswing for Ukraine as Russian forces have been gaining the upper hand in recent weeks.

The PM spoke to Ukraine's president,Volodymyr Zelenskyy, this morning, in which he assured him of the UK's "steadfast support", and said that "Ukraine's security was central to all of Europe's security".

Mr Zelenskyy wrote on X that his is "grateful to the UK and personally to Prime Minister Sunak for such a strong demonstration of support".

Follow the latest updates on the war in Ukraine in our dedicated live blog here:


How French and British vessels responded to today's Channel incident

By Adam Parker, Sky's data and forensics unit

Marine tracking shows French rescue boats responding to a migrant incident off the coast of Wimereux, northern France, in the early hours of this morning.

Data from MarineTraffic24 shows two French ships patrolling the coastline overnight.

At around 4.45am UTC, at least three boats are involved in search and rescue efforts.

The rescue boats appear to be attending different locations all along the coast near Wimereux.

Meanwhile on the British side, at 6am UTC at least three Border Force boats are out in the Channel.

Rescues appear to be ongoing.

Watch below the marine traffic movements overnight and into this morning:


'A shocking new low': Charities blast 'cruel and unworkable' Rwanda scheme

We've had some reaction from charities to the Rwanda bill completing its passage through parliament overnight.

Rose Caldwell, CEO of global children's charity Plan International UK, described the bill as a "shocking new low for the asylum system in the UK".

"Sending vulnerable asylum seekers thousands of miles away to yet another country could cause immense suffering for people who have already experienced the trauma of having to flee their homes," she said, calling for the government to "immediately abandon this cruel and unworkable policy".

Helen Stawski, policy lead at Oxfam, said it is a "sad indictment of the government that they have gone to such extraordinary lengths to pursue such an inhumane policy".

She said the government has a "moral and legal responsibility to welcome people fleeing war and persecution".

She called for more safe and legal routes for refugees to be established, accusing ministers of "dodging Britain's duty to people in desperate need".


'These tragedies have to stop': Cleverly responds to reports of deaths in Channel

As we've been reporting this morning, a major police operation is under way off the coast of France after a number of small boats were launched.

French media is reporting at least five people have died.

Following those reports, Home Secretary James Cleverly said: "These tragedies have to stop. I will not accept a status quo which costs so many lives.

"This government is doing everything we can to end this trade, stop the boats and ultimately break the business model of the evil people smuggling gangs, so they no longer put lives at risk."

Politics latest: Rishi Sunak reacts to latest Channel deaths hours after Rwanda bill passes (2024)


How many languages rishi sunak can speak? ›

Has the Rwanda bill passed? ›

UK government efforts to stop the boats and tackle illegal migration took a major step forward, after the Safety of Rwanda Bill completed its passage through Parliament overnight, Monday 22 April.

What nationality is Rishi? ›

Rishi Sunak (born 12 May 1980) is a British politician who has served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom since 25 October 2022. He was Chancellor of the Exchequer in the Boris Johnson government from 2020 to 2022.

Who is the British Prime Minister? ›

The current prime minister is Rishi Sunak of the Conservative Party, who assumed the office on 25 October 2022. No fixed position; often held by: Deputy Prime Minister. First Secretary of State.

Can anyone speak 12 languages? ›

Some people can speak more than five languages, and they are known as polyglots. They are less than one percent of the population. Hyperpolyglots are fluent in more than 12 languages, and they are sporadic to find.

Who can speak more than 100 languages? ›

The German Hans Conon von der Gabelentz, born in 1807, researched and published grammars of 80 languages. The record, though, probably belongs to Sir John Bowring, Governor of Hong Kong from 1854 to 1859, who was said to know 200 languages, and capable of speaking 100.

Why is the Rwanda bill controversial? ›

Why is it controversial? Human rights groups and legal experts voiced concern that the proposals override any laws preventing a migrant identified for removal from being deported, and compel courts and tribunals to treat Rwanda as a "safe country".

Does the US give aid to Rwanda? ›

As Rwanda's largest bilateral donor, the United States has helped support the agriculture-led poverty reduction the country has seen over the past 15 years- from around 60% to around 40%.

Where does Rwanda get its money? ›

Rwanda is a country of few natural resources, and the economy is based mostly on subsistence agriculture by local farmers using simple tools.

What religion is the name Rishi? ›

In Hinduism, a Rishi is someone who can “see or hear divine knowledge,” which is something that might inspire your little Rishi to connect with their faith and spirituality.

Who is the youngest prime minister? ›

William Pitt the Younger was the youngest prime minister ever appointed (at age 24). The youngest prime minister to be appointed was William Pitt the Younger on 19 December 1783 at the age of 24 years and 208 days. William Ewart Gladstone was appointed more times (4) than any other prime minister.

Is the Rishi a god? ›

Post-Vedic tradition regards the Rishis as "sages" or saints, constituting a peculiar class of divine human beings in the early mythical system, as distinct from Asuras, Devas and mortal men. Swami Vivekananda described "Rishi"s as Mantra-drashtas or "the seers of thought".

Who is more powerful in England prime minister or president? ›

Therefore, unlike presidents, the prime minister can directly initiate legislation and due to the context British politics functions within, faces fewer "veto players" than a president.

Does Rishi have a wife? ›

Who is the most famous British prime minister? ›

Winston Churchill is generally considered one of the greatest prime ministers for his leadership during the Second World War. Clement Attlee, who served as Labour Leader for over 20 years, is almost always very highly rated among prime ministers.

Who can speak 200 languages? ›

And Sir John Bowring, Governor of Hong Kong from 1854 to 1859, was known for having familiarity with as many as 200 languages (and being able to speak 100 of them).

Who can speak 22 languages? ›

“I speak with everybody and at times I serve them as interpreter,” wrote Rizal. Knowing at least 22 languages, Rizal was a cosmopolitan of his time, and Blumentritt wrote that Rizal “can become for your people one of those great men who will exert a definite influence on their spiritual development.”

Who can speak 15 languages? ›

Even Ziad Fazah – who is considered to be one of the most skilled living polyglots – is said to be able to speak 15 languages fluently without any preparation, with his proficiency in the others being unknown.

Who spoke 8 languages? ›

Nikola Tesla (1856–1943), Serbian-American inventor. He spoke eight languages, including Serbo-Croatian, English, German, French, and Italian.


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