UK minister returns from COP28 for Rwanda vote in parliament

LONDON (Reuters) – The British minister at the COP28 climate summit in Dubai has flown back to London to take part in a crunch parliamentary vote on sending asylum seekers to Rwanda, sparking questions over the government’s commitment to tackling climate change.

Graham Stuart, Minister of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, has been representing Britain in Dubai as countries attempt to agree on a global plan of action to limit climate change to prevent disastrous flooding, fatal heat and irreversible changes to the world’s ecosystems.

However Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s spokesman said Stuart had flown home to vote in parliament, where lawmakers are weighing whether to back the prime minister’s key policy of deporting asylum seekers to Rwanda to act as a deterrent to those arriving in small boats on the English coast.

He will return to Dubai once he has voted on Tuesday evening.

“He has returned to attend parliament but will be going back shortly,” Sunak’s spokesman said. Asked how the government would justify the CO2 emissions, he said the government was not opposed to flying and the most important thing was the outcome at COP.

Sunak’s Rwanda policy has deeply divided his party, alienating both moderates, who are worried about Britain breaching its human rights obligations, and right-wing politicians, who contend it does not go far enough.

(Reporting by Andrew MacAskill and Alistair Smout, Writing by Kylie MacLellan; Editing by Kate Holton)