Rishi Sunak Rwanda bill
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak revealed that, as part of the Rwanda bill, Rwanda will be relocating its refugees to the UK. JESSICA TAYLOR/UK PARLIAMENT via AFP

Appearing on BBC Breakfast this week, Labour Leader Keir Starmer called Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's emergency Rwanda treaty a "performance art".

The Rwanda treaty, which will see all undocumented migrants who have arrived to the UK through the English Channel deported to Rwanda, was ruled "unlawful" by both the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court this year.

Lord Reed, the President of the Supreme Court, called the legislation a "real risk" to the lives of people who have already been subject to persecution in their home countries.

Ignoring the humanitarian and legal concerns surrounding the policy, Sunak said that the authorities have already disabled sections of the Human Rights Act from the new emergency treaty, "to ensure our plan cannot be stopped".

Sunak dubbed the new emergency legislation "the toughest ever anti-immigration law", declaring that "the British people should decide who gets to come to this country – not criminal gangs or foreign courts".

In the BBC interview, Starmer criticised the right-wing Conservative Party for pushing to spend almost £300 million of taxpayer's money on the futile policy.

Instead, the government should be putting the money towards stopping smugglers from crossing the English Channel on small boats – he told BBC Breakfast.

The Labour Party Leader continued to criticise the government for the huge backlog of asylum applications, revealing that "of all the people that arrive by small boats in the last year or so, only one per cent have actually had their claims processed".

"That is appalling," he added.

Starmer went on to explain his "practical" strategy with: "Where people fail in their claims, they should be removed to the country they came from as swiftly as possible."

Labour Leader Keir Starmer called the emergency Rwanda treaty a "performance art".

According to the Labour Party Leader, last week, the Prime Minister revealed that the emergency Rwanda deal "will also involve Rwanda sending their refugees across to the United Kingdom".

A new bill was passed by an overall majority vote in the House of Commons this week, by 313 to 269 votes.

Yasmine Ahmed, the Director of Human Rights Watch UK, called the majority vote "a defeat for human decency and a hammer blow for the rule of law".

Starmer said that he expected the passing, considering the last time that a bill failed at this early stage was in the 1980s.

Starmer was adamant that the vote would "go through tonight", noting that "the Prime Minister has an 80-seat majority".

"I don't think we should allow [the Conservative Party] the indulgence of pretending it's going to be tight and [Sunak] has done a brilliant job at getting it over the line," the Labour Party leader added.

With reference to Sunak, Starmer said: "He's got an 80-seat majority, he should get it over the line very – very easily."

Contradicting the Labour Leader's remarks, Political Scientist Tim Bale argued that Sunak's "arm-twisting and promise-making did the trick in the end".

However, Bale acknowledged that there are still "plenty of hurdles [Sunak] still has to jump and, given the level of abstentions from Tory MPs who want to see the bill made even more draconian than it is already, there's absolutely no guarantee they'll be surmountable".

Changes and amendments are set to be made to the bill, as warring factions of MPs within the Conservative Party will alter the legislation to suit humanitarian and legal concerns.

Several votes are expected to take place in the new year.

Speaking to BBC Breakfast, Starmer urged Sunak to call a general election if the deportation policy vote fails in 2024.

"If the Prime Minister loses the vote, then of course he should call a general election. I think that there should be a general election as soon as possible," he said.