Labour’s criticism of Rishi Sunak’s Rwanda policy has landed them in hot water after it emerged a new candidate has ties to the country.
The PM’s controversial scheme to send migrants to the African country – which he insists will help to cut migrant numbers – was rejected by the UK Supreme Court, which deemed Rwanda unsafe, something which the Labour Party has also agreed with. But they have been accused of a double standard as it emerges Sam Rushworth, currently standing to be an MP in Bishop Auckland in County Durham, is the founder of a company that sells holidays for children to Rwanda.
African Dreams specialises in sending kids to the country, reports the Mail on Sunday, adding that it is a “’safe and supporting environment” for children and promises to “give your teenager an unforgettable summer of action and adventure”.
It follows Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper describing the Government’s Rwanda plan as “shameful” and “deeply unethical.”
Labour described the comparison between African Dreams and the Rwanda plan as “ludicruous”.
Mr Rushworth, who has also publicly criticised the Rwanda plan, told MPs discussing the plans that he “recommends” using Africa Dreams to visit Rwanda. He has also suggested it as a spot to “escape the UK winter”.
The MP candidate responded to the outlet that the profits from the company go to Rwandan charities and he does not take a salary or dividends from it. He added he was “proud” to have set up a business to “provide opportunities for people in Rwanda where all the profits remained in Rwanda”.
Advertising its Camp Rwanda package for schoolchildren, the company said: “Give your teenager an unforgettable summer of action and adventure at our all inclusive summer camp. For the same price as most domestic summer camps we offer an unparalleled opportunity to explore Rwanda’s wealth of wildlife and culturally enriching activities, in a safe and supportive environment, while making friends from around the world.”
Michael Tomlinson, newly appointed Minister for Countering Illegal Migration, said: “The hypocrisy of the Labour Party has been exposed – every time Labour chooses to play political games, trying to block the Conservatives’ plan to stop the boats, rather than doing the right thing for the country.”
A Labour spokesman said last night: “This is desperate stuff even by the Tories own standards. It’s ludicrous to try and compare a school trip with subcontracting our asylum system to Rwanda.
“It was the UK courts, not the Labour Party, that determined Rwanda wasn’t an appropriate place for the Government to send asylum seekers to.
“The Tories should stop wasting millions of taxpayers’ money on this Rwanda gimmick and deliver Labour’s plan to smash the gangs which is the only thing that will work to stop the channel crossings.”
Mr Sunak faces a rebellion from his own MPs over the plan as he tries to get it off the ground despite challenges from the courts. Pressure groups from the right wing of the party are pushing for the PM to legislate against the European Convention on Human Rights to get past court interference – while those more moderate conservatives are directly opposed to anything that might contradict international law.
The Rwanda plan will face further challenges in the Commons in January before heading to the House of Lords.