Lee Anderson's portrait from UK Parliament

A Nottingham anti-racism campaigner has called for Lee Anderson to resign as MP for Ashfield following his stance on the Rwanda Bill.

Stand Up To Racism joint secretary Richard Buckwell says the controversial politician should focus on the issues facing his constituents.

The legislation orders the courts to ignore key sections of the Human Rights Act to try and outmanoeuvre the judgement of the Supreme Court.

It also says courts should ignore other British laws or international rules that stand in the way of deportations to Rwanda.

Mr Buckwell said: ”Lee Anderson should resign from everything and stop pretending to represent Nottingham when he doesn’t know people’s needs; he mistakenly thinks that immigration is a huge problem but it’s definitely not in Ashfield – there’s no hotels with asylum seekers. 

“The Rwanda scheme is a complete diversion from what people actually want, services are currently being cut which will have a huge impact in Nottingham, it’s taking people’s attention off the real issues, it’s a complete diversion.  

Anderson said he had entered the no lobby to reject Sunak’s Rwanda bill but after being mocked Anderson abstained despite stepping down as deputy chair of the party as he wanted the bill to go further.

He continued: “They are sending a few hundred people to Rwanda thinking it will scare people who are already in a desperate situation and fleeing from their countries which isn’t a decision made lightly by people.”

Nottingham residents reacted to the news.

Peter Trent said: “It’s absolutely despicable, I work with a refugee asylum seeker, he’s come from Iran and has walked away from a huge beekeeping business in Iran, a loving family and crossed over in a small boat because if he stayed in Iran he would’ve been killed.

“That’s his story but there are thousands and thousands and thousands of people in this community with a similar story and we want to send them to Rwanda – is this the country we have become?

“Anybody who supports the bill doesn’t believe it’ll solve anything but because they want to deflect the blame for the failed system.”

As of 14 December, 29,090 people had crossed the English Channel in 2023 whereas in the prior year, the number was 45,755 – the highest number since figures began to be collected in 2018.

The Labour Party estimates the government will pay about £400m to Rwanda under the scheme, but the government has not confirmed the total cost – so far they have paid £240 million, with £50 more expected this financial year. 

Secretary for Unite Nottinghamshire Health Branch Jon Dale said: “The Rwanda scheme is a divisive attempt by this Government to blame a tiny number of desperate people for the shortages in housing, schools and hospitals that’s been building up year after year after year because of the failures of this government and previous governments. 

“The government will try to ignore basic human rights just like when they try to restrict what should be a human right to withdraw our labour with their minimum service bill.”

Nottingham resident Bryan Murell said: “All they want is one plane to take off before the election so they can say it was a success. 

They’re trying to deflect a lot of attention from things that are going wrong in the country – it’s a smoke screen.”

Some Tory Members wanted the bill to go further and so voted against it but the bill did pass on 17 January and the bill now goes to the House of Lords, where it is expected to face significant challenges.

We contacted Lee Anderson for comment but he hadn’t replied at the time of publication.