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James Cleverly has arrived in Rwanda to sign a new treaty for the government’s asylum plan.

It is part of Rishi Sunak’s mission to make the deal to send migrants who arrive in the UK by irregular means to Rwanda legally watertight following the Supreme Court’s ruling against the scheme.

In the wake of the judgement on 15 November, the government insisted it had been working on contingency measures and promised a treaty with Rwanda within days, along with emergency legislation in parliament.

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Mr Cleverly said Rwanda “cares deeply about the rights of refugees” and he looks forward to meeting counterparts and signing the deal.

The home secretary said: “We are clear that Rwanda is a safe country, and we are working at pace to move forward with this partnership to stop the boats and save lives.

“The Supreme Court recognised that changes may be delivered in future to address the conclusions they reached – and that is what we have set out to do together, with this new, internationally recognised treaty agreement.

“Rwanda cares deeply about the rights of refugees, and I look forward to meeting with counterparts to sign this agreement and further discuss how we work together to tackle the global challenge of illegal migration.”

There has been speculation Rwanda is pushing to get more money on top of the £140m already committed to the scheme.

The Sunday Times reported Kigali will be given a £15m top-up payment to agree fresh terms on its agreement with the UK.

Read more:
What is the government’s Rwanda plan?

Rwanda map

Mr Sunak met Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame on the sidelines of the COP28 climate talks in Dubai on Friday but declined afterwards to say how much more money he would spend to make the scheme a success.

Downing Street insisted there had been no demand for extra money from Rwanda, with the prime minister’s official spokesman saying: “Certainly I don’t recognise that figure of £15m, there’s been no request for additional funding for the treaty made by Rwanda, or not offered by the UK government.”

There had also been reports that British lawyers could be stationed in Rwandan courts in a bid to address concerns by the Supreme Court, which found in its ruling there would be a “real risk” of people being returned home regardless of whether their asylum claims were justified or not, in a breach of international law.

But Rwandan government spokesperson Yolande Makolo said the idea was “completely off the table”.

“We have non-removal clauses providing that no relocated individual shall be removed from Rwanda,” she said.

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Cleverly announces immigration plan

Labour’s Yvette Cooper accused the government of “going round in circles” on the Rwanda scheme, saying Mr Cleverly was the third home secretary to visit the country in support of the deportation scheme, which she branded “simply a gimmick”.

She said: “We want to stop dangerous boat crossings, they are undermining border security and putting lives at risk.

“What that means is we’ve got to have action to go after the criminal gangs who are making huge sums as a result of these dangerous boat crossings.

“Instead… it’s a bit like Groundhog Day – you’ve got the third home secretary in less than two years off to Rwanda with another chequebook.”

Mr Cleverly’s visit comes after he laid out his five-point plan to cut legal immigration in the Commons yesterday, including a ban on care workers bringing their families over to the UK and raising the minimum salary required for a skilled worker visa to £38,700 from next spring.

Read more from Sky News:
Tories losing more 2019 voters to Reform UK than Labour
‘Embarrassed’ backbenchers demand action on net migration

Tory backbenchers remain unconvinced by government promises



Mhari Aurora

Political correspondent

@MhariAurora

The Rwanda scheme is making progress – or at least that’s what the government would like you to think.

Today, Home Secretary James Cleverly arrived in Kigali to sign the long-awaited treaty with the Rwandan government.

But don’t be fooled, the government isn’t out of the woods yet.

With emergency legislation expected to be introduced to Parliament on Thursday, frustrated backbenchers from the right of the Conservative Party are still sceptical about how robust the legislation will be in reality.

Although the government likes to talk tough on immigration, right-wing MPs remain unconvinced by the Home Office’s promises.

One Tory MP tells me colleagues are annoyed that the five-point plan announced yesterday in the hopes of curbing levels of legal migration was not announced sooner to see the impact ahead of a general election.

Having previously said the government’s flagship Rwanda policy is in fact not the be-all and end-all, Mr Cleverly will be speaking at a press conference later, where he is expected to promote the success of this next step in the government’s partnership with the country.

But there’s just one thing.

Back home in Westminster, his understudy – Robert Jenrick – has been going off-script.

In an interview with Sky News’s deputy political editor Sam Coates yesterday, the home secretary did not deny that the government had abandoned its 2019 manifesto commitment to get net migration below 250,000 before the next election.

However, on Sky News Breakfast with Kay Burley today, Mr Jenrick – speaking for the government – said he was committed to that manifesto pledge.

So which one is it?

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Speaking to Sky News this morning, immigration minister Robert Jenrick said he believed the government would meet its manifesto commitment of getting net migration below 250,000 before the next election – despite the current figure standing at a record-breaking 745,000 in 2022.

Put to him that even with the new measures announced yesterday, the government would still fall short of its target of 229,000, Mr Jenrick said reducing net migration “matters a great deal to me and to the government – and so if we need to do more, we will”.

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New migration measures will have ‘profound impact’

Mr Jenrick, who has taken a hardline stance on migration issues, also told Sky News he was confident that flights to Rwanda would take off before the next election, which stands in contrast to colleagues – including the chancellor, who said there was “no guarantee” deportation flights to Rwanda will take off next year.

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‘I despise the PM’: George Galloway hits back at ‘little’ Rishi Sunak after Rochdale win called ‘alarming’

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'I despise the PM': George Galloway hits back at 'little' Rishi Sunak after Rochdale win called 'alarming'

George Galloway told Sky News he “despises” Prime Minister Rishi Sunak when asked about the prime minister’s speech condemning extremism.

The Workers Party of Britain leader won the Rochdale by-election with 12,335 votes – more than 5,000 votes over second placed independent David Tully – and focused much of his campaign on the plight of Palestinians in Gaza.

But in Mr Sunak’s speech outside Downing Street, he said Mr Galloway returning to parliament is “beyond alarming”, saying the new MP “dismisses the horror of what happened on 7 October” and “glorifies Hezbollah”.

Follow latest: PM rails against ‘extremist forces’

When asked by Sky News’ Sam Coates if he respected Mr Sunak, the Rochdale MP fired back: “I despise the prime minister.

“And guess what? Millions and millions and millions of people in this country despise the prime minister.

“I do not respect the prime minister at all.”

More on Rishi Sunak

‘Little’ Rishi Sunak

Speaking in his campaign office, Mr Galloway also dismissed the prime minister’s concerns, instead talking up his win on Thursday night.

“I’ve got the democratic mandate here, not Rishi Sunak,” he said, “so don’t put to me statements made by Rishi Sunak as if I’m meant to be impressed by them.

“He [doesn’t] impress me much.”

Read more:
How big an electoral threat is Galloway to Labour?
Starmer should be worried after Galloway win

George Galloway speaks after Rishi Sunak's speech against extremism.
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‘I’ve got the democratic mandate here, not Rishi Sunak’, Galloway told Sky News

He also colourfully described the prime minister as the “little” Tory leader, and added: “The prime minister is a rather diminutive, diminished and degraded politician.

“He made a party political statement. I don’t care about Rishi Sunak’s attitude. What I care about is that the returning officer, a man of unimpeachable integrity I’m sure you’ll agree, declared it a free and fair election and me as the winner.

“And Rishi Sunak is one of the crushed two big parties in the state.”

‘Suck it up’

The prime minister was not alone in his concerns about the former Labour MP’s return to the House of Commons.

Sir Keir Starmer apologised to voters for the result in Rochdale, and said Mr Galloway “only won because Labour didn’t stand a candidate“.

The Board of Deputies of British Jews added that the by-election marked “a dark day” for the UK’s Jewish community.

Richard Tice also claimed that campaigners for Reform suffered “daily intimidation and slurs” in the Greater Manchester constituency.

But when asked by Mr Coates about the allegations of intimidation, Mr Galloway said: “You have to just suck it up. I won the election.”

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UK

Clapham: Moped rider opens fire with ‘shotgun’ while being chased by Met Police

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Clapham: Moped rider opens fire with 'shotgun' while being chased by Met Police

A moped rider being chased by police has fired shots, wounding three people in south London.

Two of them suffered shotgun pellet injuries while a third was hurt by the moped, but none are believed to be in a life-threatening condition.

Officers were pursuing the vehicle, being ridden by two people, after it failed to stop in the Clapham area just before 5pm on Friday, the Metropolitan Police said.

Pic: @siancole8
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Pic: @siancole8

A firearm, believed to be a shotgun, was fired from the moped near Clapham Common South Side.

The suspects then fled the scene and officers are trying to trace the moped. No arrests have been made.

The London Ambulance Service said its crews had taken two people to a major trauma centre in the capital, while the third was treated in hospital.

The Met said: “A crime scene is in place and urgent enquiries to trace the moped are ongoing. Firearms officers are searching the area.”

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Several roads have been cordoned off.

Police in the Clapham Common area. Pic: @siancole8
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Police in the Clapham Common area. Pic: @siancole8

A local barber, who gave his name as Kaka, said he was left “shocked” after hearing shooting close to his shop near Clapham Common.

He said: “I was in the shop just before 5pm and I heard a gunshot up the road. We were all shocked because it was so close, the police were everywhere afterwards.”

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UK

PM rails against ‘extremist forces trying to tear us apart’ in Downing Street address

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PM rails against 'extremist forces trying to tear us apart' in Downing Street address

Rishi Sunak has railed against “extremist forces trying to tear us apart” during a Downing Street address to the nation.

The prime minister said there has been a “shocking increase in extremist disruption and criminality” and added that “now our democracy itself is a target”.

Politics latest: Galloway reacts to PM saying result ‘beyond alarming’

He also described the Rochdale by-election result on Thursday night as “beyond alarming”, and claimed “our streets have been hijacked by small groups who are hostile to our values” as he urged the need to “beat this poison”.

His surprise speech came after the victory of maverick politician George Galloway in the Greater Manchester seat, following a campaign dominated by the highly-emotive issue of Gaza and dogged by accusations of abuse and intimidation.

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Rochdale MP: ‘I despise the prime minister’

In response, Mr Galloway told Sky News he “despised” the prime minister and did not care what he thought as he had won “a free and fair election”.

Community tensions in the UK have heightened against the backdrop of the Israel-Hamas conflict, triggered by the militant attack on 7 October.

In the face of ongoing pro-Palestinian protests, MPs have spoken of their experiences of receiving death threats and their concerns for the safety of their families, prompting the government to announce an extra £31m to protect elected representatives.

It followed chaotic scenes in Westminster over the vote on a ceasefire in Gaza, when Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle broke with precedent in his handling of proceedings because he had concerns about the intimidation suffered by some parliamentarians, sparking a backlash.

But critics argue members of the ruling party have stoked divisions, highlighting former deputy Tory chairman Lee Anderson being stripped of the party whip after he accused London mayor Sadiq Khan of being controlled by Islamists, and former home secretary Suella Braverman referring to protests as “hate marches”.

Read more:
From bodyguards to death threats – the real impact of chaos in the Commons

Mr Sunak said: “In recent weeks and months, we have seen a shocking increase in extremist disruption and criminality.

“What started as protests on our streets have descended into intimidation, threats and planned acts of violence.

“Jewish children fearful to wear their school uniform lest it reveals their identity. Muslim women abused in the street for the actions of a terrorist group they have no connection with.

“Now our democracy itself is a target. Council meetings and local events have been stormed. MPs do not feel safe in their homes. Long-standing parliamentary conventions have been upended because of safety concerns.

“And it’s beyond alarming that last night, the Rochdale by-election returned a candidate that dismisses the horror of what happened on 7 October, who glorifies Hezbollah and is endorsed by Nick Griffin, the racist former leader of the BNP.”

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Protesters descend on MP’s home

He added: “We are a country where we love our neighbours and we are building Britain together.

“But I fear that our great achievement in building the world’s most successful multi-ethnic, multi-faith democracy is being deliberately undermined.

“There are forces here at home trying to tear us apart.”

He went on: “Islamist extremists and far rights groups are spreading a poison, that poison is extremism.”

Mr Sunak announced a “new robust framework” would be introduced to “ensure we are dealing with the root cause of this problem”.

The prime minister said ministers would redouble their support for the anti-terrorism Prevent programme, demand universities stop extremist activity on campus and act to prevent people from entering the country whose “aim is to undermine its values”.

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What happened in the House of Commons?

In an appeal to those taking part in pro-Palestinian protests, Mr Sunak said: “Don’t let the extremists hijack your marches. You have a chance in the coming weeks to show that you can protest decently, peacefully and with empathy for your fellow citizens.

“Let’s prove these extremists wrong and show that even when we disagree we will never be disunited from our common values of decency and respect.

“I love this country, my family and I owe it so much. The time has now come for us all to stand together to combat the forces of division and beat this poison.”

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer backed Mr Sunak’s call.

In a statement, he said: “The prime minister is right to advocate unity and to condemn the unacceptable and intimidatory behaviour that we have seen recently.

“It is an important task of leadership to defend our values and the common bonds that hold us together.

“Citizens have a right to go about their business without intimidation and elected representatives should be able to do their jobs and cast their votes without fear or favour.

“This is something agreed across the parties and which we should all defend.”

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