By Isabel Ringrose
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Continue fight against racism after Rwanda flights delay

Rishi Sunak has said Rwanda flights will take place only if he is re-elected, but this must not stop anti-racist action
Issue 2907
Protesters march on the UN Anti-racist day (Photo: Guy Smallman)

Protesters march on the UN Anti-racist day in March (Photo: Guy Smallman)

The Tories are using racism in a desperate effort to shore up votes. Rishi Sunak is saying vote Conservative to start deportation flights to Rwanda.

He announced last week that no Rwanda flights would take off before the 4 July election. But, he said, “We’ve started detaining people. The flights are booked for July, airfields on standby, the escorts are ready, and if I’m re-elected as your prime minister, those flights will go to Rwanda.”

Refugees have been subjected to fear, round-ups and misery—but they have also protested against their removal. Despite the announcement of no flights before 4 July, anti-racists shouldn’t rest easy. Sunak may still look to send a Rwanda flight off a few days before the election as a final vile gimmick.

Sunak on his first day of campaigning said the Rwanda policy is “central” to the election. Both the main parties will be competing about how many refugees they can keep out and deport.

The Labour Party has already said it would scrap the plan but only because it’s too expensive and doesn’t deport enough people. Labour’s new election leaflet says that Labour’s “workable” plan is to mobilise its new border police forces.

It also wants to “set up a new returns and enforcement unit to remove people”.

“Plus it will “clear the backlog and end asylum hotels”. Keir Starmer wants to stop the boats and make life as cruel for refugees as it is under the Tories.

He opposes “safe passage” for people fleeing war and poverty. The pause on Rwanda flights means there is an even stronger case to free immediately all those rounded up and locked up in recent raids.

And opposition to the round-ups and hostile environment should continue. The Home Office wants to create an environment of fear for those in the asylum system—and all round-ups of refugees are part of that.

Meanwhile, racism is ramping up. Far right figure Nigel Farage—the Reform UK president—said last

Sunday that Sunak had allowed “more people into the country who are going to fight British values” than any leader before him.

And he added there was a growing proportion of people in Britain who “loathe much of what we stand for”.

When asked if he was talking about Muslims, Farage responded,

“We are”. In the same interview, Farage said he still had “one more big card to play” and confirmed that he plans to stand as an MP at some point. Foreign Office minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan echoed his message saying some Muslims “want to challenge” fundamental British values.

Asked if she agreed with Farage, Trevelyan told LBC Radio there were some Muslims who matched that description. A recent poll revealed that 58 percent of Conservative Party members think Islam is a threat to the British way of life.

The family of a man who died abroad after being wrongly deported by the Home Office has blamed the department for causing delays that stopped him being reunited with his children.

Sudharsan Ithayachandran was deported to Sri Lanka in December 2019 after admitting to working at Tesco without official documents.

He left behind his wife and two children—all British citizens. He won an appeal at an immigration tribunal in November 2023.

The Home Office delayed a visa for him to return to Britain. On 19 May, Ithayachandran collapsed at his accommodation in Sri Lanka and died in hospital.

His family said he was in a deep depression due to his separation from his children and was not eating or looking after himself properly.

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