Enlarge image

Robert Jenrick resigns in row over British asylum policy


Ben Stansall / AFP

The dispute over the British immigration law continues to escalate. Now the Minister of State for Migration, Robert Jenrick, has resigned from his post. The MP, who is actually considered a confidant of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, did not go far enough with a bill with which the prime minister wanted to enforce a controversial asylum pact with Rwanda.

"I can't continue in my office if I so clearly disagree with the direction of the government's immigration policy," Jenrick tweeted. Home Secretary James Cleverly confirmed the appointment in Parliament.

The planned law provides for the East African country to be declared a safe third country. To this end, Sunak even wants to declare a British human rights law inapplicable. However, hardliners such as former Home Secretary Suella Braverman and now Jenrick are calling for even tougher measures, up to and including withdrawal from the European Convention on Human Rights, to prevent lawsuits in international courts.

Originally, Jenrick had been appointed as a counterweight to the right-winger Braverman. In the debate, however, he has moved further and further to the right.

Asylum seekers to be sent to Rwanda

The British government wants to immediately deport asylum seekers who enter the country irregularly, regardless of their origin, to Rwanda. They are supposed to ask for asylum there, but they are not allowed to return to the UK. The Supreme Court in London had also stopped the project, citing deficiencies in the rule of law in Rwanda.

The new law is now intended to circumvent these concerns. To this end, Cleverly had traveled to Rwanda and signed an asylum agreement for deportations to Rwanda.

In the asylum pact, Rwanda is supposed to pledge not to deport asylum seekers to their home country – and thus dispel the concerns of the Supreme Court. If Rwanda wants to expel a migrant, for example because of a crime, British and Rwandan judges should jointly decide whether the person stays in Africa or is brought back to the UK.

For the Tories, migration has become more important a few months before the next election. For many conservative voters, the issue has become a top priority, according to polls. In the polls, the Tories are far behind the opposition Labour party, which is now likely to form the next government. The date for the next election has not yet been set, but speculation is about May or October 2024.