The Liberal Democrat leader said the Government’s policy would not stop people smuggling.
14 April 2022
The Government’s plans to process some asylum seekers in Rwanda have been released as a “cynical distraction” from the partygate scandal, Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey said.
Sir Ed also said he expected the Prime Minister to be issued with further fines over the scandal.
The Lib Dem leader was in the Port of Ardersier in the Scottish Highlands on Thursday amid campaigning for the local elections.
He said the Rwanda plan would not stop people crossing the English Channel in small boats and called for more action against people smugglers.
He told journalists: “First of all, this policy just won’t work – clearly, obviously won’t work.
“It won’t stop people getting onboard the boats of illegal smugglers.
“They’ve provided no evidence to suggest that this new policy will stop that illegal smuggling, they’re not cracking down on the organised crime gangs, which is what you need to do.”
He said the scheme would be a “bureaucratic nightmare” costing hundreds of millions of pounds, saying the money should go towards the cost-of-living crisis rather than a “cynical distraction”.
Sir Ed said: “They’ve announced this because they’re trying to deflect attention from the Prime Minister’s lawbreaking.
“The timing could not be more obvious and no-one’s going to be fooled by this.
“They’ve brought this in to try to move the story away from the shocking partygate revelations.
“It won’t work and people aren’t going to fall for it.”
He criticised the position taken by Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross, who withdrew his call for the Prime Minister to quit in light of the war in Ukraine.
Sir Ed said: “Even though the Prime Minister’s now been fined by the police, Douglas Ross still believes that Johnson is a truthful man.
“Well, I have to say I’ve got some magic beans to sell Douglas Ross, if you believe that.
“And I frankly think it’s despicable for Boris Johnson’s allies to use the war in Ukraine to get them out of having to do the right thing.”
The Lib Dem leader said he thought it was likely the Prime Minister would receive more than one fine “because he went to more than one party”.