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The Prime Minister said this morning that “nothing will stand in our way” of getting flights running, after a final version of the bill was agreed by MPs and the Lords in the early hours of Tuesday following hours of ping-pong between the two houses.

Peers had been amending and pushing back on certain elements of the legislation which is the cornerstone of the Prime Minister’s plans to stop small boat crossings. 

In a statement this morning, Sunak said that the “landmark legislation” marks “not just a step forward but a fundamental change in the global equation on migration.”

He added: “We introduced the Rwanda Bill to deter vulnerable migrants from making perilous crossings and break the business model of the criminal gangs who exploit them. The passing of this legislation will allow us to do that and make it very clear that if you come here illegally, you will not be able to stay.

“Our focus is to now get flights off the ground, and I am clear that nothing will stand in our way of doing that and saving lives.”

Sunak had vowed on Monday that the legislation had to be passed “no ifs no buts” and that Parliament would be voting through the evening “no matter how late it goes”. 

MPs stripped out two changes peers had made last week in the late afternoon, removing the peers’ plans for an independent committee that would judge whether Rwanda was safe, and another that would exempt people who had helped the British armed forces overseas from being sent to Rwanda, such as Afghan interpreters. 

The legislation then went back to the Lords, the Commons again, before one final trip to the Lords where it was agreed. 

Through this process, the government pledged to reassess cases under the Afghan relocations scheme, which was enough to stop the Lords pushing that matter to another vote. 

Home Secretary James Cleverly called the passage of the bill a “landmark moment”. 

In a video posted on social media, he said: “The Act will prevent people from abusing the law by using false human rights claims to block removals. And it makes clear that the UK parliament is sovereign, giving government the power to reject interim blocking measures imposed by European courts.

“I promised to do what was necessary to clear the path for the first flight. That’s what we have done. Now we’re working day in and day out to get flights off the ground.”

Sunak said on Monday that the plans are for the first planes to be able to take off in about 10 – 12 weeks time, with flights already having been chartered. 

Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper has said the government should “drop this eye-wateringly expensive election stunt”. 

Speaking after the bill was passed last night, she said: “The new Rwanda law is an extortionately expensive gimmick rather than a serious plan to tackle dangerous boat crossings.

“The Rwanda scheme will cost more than half a billion pounds for just 300 people, less than one per cent of asylum seekers here in the UK – and there is no plan for the 99 per cent.

“Instead of spending £2 million per asylum seeker on this failing scheme they should be putting that money into boosting our border security instead – that is Labour’s practical plan.”

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