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Lord Ken Clarke, a former Conservative cabinet minister, has raised concerns that the UK is dangerously heading towards what he describes as an “elected dictatorship” under the governance of Rishi Sunak. AP News reports that this stern warning came amid a heated House of Lords debate on the controversial legislation proposing the relocation of some asylum seekers to Rwanda for processing.

The Rwanda asylum plan has sparked significant division within the Conservative Party and across the broader political spectrum. During the Monday debate, Lord Clarke, who has served in various key ministerial positions, launched a scathing attack on the policy, accusing Sunak’s government of eroding democratic norms and bypassing parliamentary scrutiny.

Expressing his apprehension, Lord Clarke drew parallels with past warnings about the perils of moving towards an elected dictatorship, emphasizing the need for balanced debate and consensus rather than exploiting parliamentary sovereignty to force through measures.

Lord Clarke directed specific criticism at Home Secretary Suella Braverman, accusing her of adopting an aggressive and ill-tempered stance on immigration policy. He contended that her approach lacks an understanding of the complexity of asylum issues and the importance of compassion.

The Rwanda scheme, designed to discourage migrants from undertaking perilous Channel crossings, was dismissed by Lord Clarke as a “completely useless deterrent” that fails to address the root causes of migration. He deemed the policy detached from reality, citing practical problems associated with asylum.

In response to clashes in the Commons, where Braverman accused critics of the Rwanda policy of being “out of touch,” Lord Clarke asserted that it was the Home Secretary who lacked knowledge and experience. Noting her lack of visits to Rwanda or consultations with officials there, he expressed skepticism about her assertion that Rwanda is a safe destination and raised concerns about human rights abuses under its authoritarian government.

Lord Clarke’s intervention highlights the discontent among senior Tories regarding the Rwanda scheme. He emphasized that while the government claims an electoral mandate to control borders, the sovereignty of parliament has its limits, particularly when faced with widespread opposition.

The warning from Lord Clarke underscores the potential challenges the legislation may encounter in the House of Lords, even with the government’s substantial majority in the Commons, emphasizing the importance of meaningful parliamentary scrutiny and consensus to prevent the slide into what he perceives as an “elected dictatorship” under Sunak’s leadership.

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