Rishi Sunak Declares No Asylum Seekers to Rwanda Before General Election

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak

The upcoming general election in the United Kingdom is approaching quickly, with the outcomes to be decided by the public in the near future. On Thursday, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced that no flights carrying asylum seekers will be heading to Rwanda before the election.

Previously, it was speculated that ministers would attempt to have the first flight depart before election day as a demonstration of their strong stance on addressing the issue of illegal immigration. However, Sunak has now stated that flights transporting asylum seekers will depart “if I am re-elected” on July 4th.

This election will be the first held in July since 1945. The current administration will soon vacate Westminster, with the government shifting away from those currently in power once Parliament is dissolved in the coming days. Politicians and their futures, but most importantly, the direction of the country, will be in the hands of the British electorate.

On Wednesday evening, Prime Minister Sunak announced outside his Number 10 Downing Street office that the election will take place on July 4th. It was raining, and loud music could be heard from nearby. The song playing was the 1990s hit “Things Can Only Get Better” by D:Ream, a tune some may recall from Tony Blair’s Labour Party campaign.

In recent weeks, it was anticipated that the election would be held in autumn, between September and November, allowing the Prime Minister at least two years in office and giving the economy more time to recover. A senior government official recently mentioned that there was “no need to rush” when I was discussing the possibility of a summer election. Decisions can sometimes be surprising, and some, including Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden, have been urging Sunak to call for an election sooner.

Those advocating for an early election believe that things may not improve significantly from their current state, and the apparent desire of voters for an early say could result in a severe defeat for the ruling Conservative Party if the election date is postponed.

On Wednesday, it was announced that inflation and the cost of living have dropped to their lowest levels in nearly three years, an achievement Sunak could point to as a success. While not solely attributable to government actions, administrations are often blamed when prices soar, so it is reasonable to expect the government to claim credit for any reductions.

The overall economic situation appears somewhat stable. However, the plan to send migrants to Rwanda could face significant changes. Should the Labour Party, the main opposition which secured more local council seats than the Conservatives in the recent May elections, win the general election, it might spell the end of the Rwanda asylum seeker plan. Labour leaders, including Keir Starmer, have promised to abolish the policy if they win, arguing that it is a waste of taxpayer money and will not solve the issue of migrants crossing the Channel in small boats.

The six-week-long campaign period has now commenced. The Conservative Party will likely emphasize caution about change, while Labour and others will advocate for a fresh start. The election results will have significant implications, regardless of the outcome. Whether current polling predicting a change in government proves accurate or if there will be an unexpected twist remains to be seen.