Stuart McDonald – 2022 Speech on Sending Asylum Seekers to Rwanda

The speech made by Stuart McDonald, the SNP MP for Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East, in the House of Commons on 15 June 2022.

My party continues to deplore this unworkable, illegal and immoral policy. It does nothing to stop smugglers and it inflicts serious harm on victims, despite the Home Secretary’s cloud cuckoo land description of it. We wholeheartedly welcome the cancellation of this flight, and we condemn the reckless approach that the Home Secretary has taken to taxpayers’ money and, more importantly, to the rule of law.

May I take a moment to commend the lawyers involved for their incredible work in the face of some utterly inappropriate commentary from the top of Government? Will the Home Secretary tell her colleagues to heed the call from the Law Society and the Bar Council, and stop attacks on legal professionals who are simply doing their job?

It is not the lawyers who caused this flight to be cancelled nor any court; this flight was stopped because of the stench of yet more Government illegality. [Interruption.] It was. Even the most ardent supporters of this dreadful policy must recognise that there is, to put it mildly, massive dubiety over its lawfulness. The UNHCR, the guardian of the refugee convention, is clear that this is in breach of it. To seek to press ahead before the courts have concluded that issue either way was a reckless waste of taxpayers’ money and shows again this Government’s total disregard for the rule of law.

The Home Secretary should call this off now, and wait for that Court ruling. That is all we are asking for in the meantime. She should start answering the basic questions that we did not get answers to on Monday, such as about oversight, age assessments, and screening for torture survivors and trafficking victims. This is a dreadful mess.

Inevitably, this pitiful policy failure will now, wrongly, be blamed by the usual suspects on the European convention on human rights, so will the Home Secretary recognise what the Prime Minister previously said about the convention being a “great thing”? Will she recognise its importance for devolution, for the Good Friday agreement and for the trade and co-operation agreement, and call off the agitators in her party who want the UK to follow Russia and Belarus through the exit door and on to pariah state status?