MPs once again rejected all the changes made by peers to the Safety of Rwanda Bill last night, with the ping-pong continuing this afternoon. There were six votes yesterday on amendments the Lords wanted to keep in the bill, and a pointed weariness from Home Office minister Michael Tomlinson at the start of the debate. He said:

‘Here we are back again debating the same issues and amendments we have already rejected. We are not quite at the point yet of completing each other’s sentences, but we are almost there.’

Rishi Sunak will be able to blame no-one but himself if there is no change in the number of crossings

The government won all the votes last night with a clear majority, though that was shaved down to 59 on an amendment protecting asylum seekers who had served with the British armed forces from deportation to Rwanda. Only Robert Buckland voted against his party on two amendments: the other rebels abstained. Buckland continued to criticise the drafting of clause 1 of the bill, saying he thought it was ‘an abomination’ and that ‘the attempt by the Lords to amend it probably makes the situation even worse’.

Peers will return to the legislation this afternoon, with the government hoping it can gain Royal Assent later this week. The particular bones of contention are over whether the legislation can declare Rwanda a safe country, preventing judges from considering that question if an asylum seeker appeals against their deportation. There is more Commons time for consideration of Lords’ amendments on Wednesday, and neither Labour nor the crossbenchers currently seem in a mood to soften their position today, which means the bill will likely take up all the time allotted to it.

The question once this legislation is enacted is whether the policy itself still has a deterrent effect. Tomlinson warned last night that amending the bill to create an independent committee on whether Rwanda is a safe country ‘would render the Bill utterly pointless and would not enable us to create the deterrent that we need to stop the boats and get flights off the ground’. So far, internal government monitoring of small boats crossings suggests that the bill has not had a deterrent effect in prospect. But once it is enacted, Rishi Sunak will be able to blame no-one but himself if there is no change in the number of crossings, even as the government spends hundreds of millions of pounds deporting a small group of asylum seekers – provided, of course, that it can find a plane to take them.

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