Rwanda: Ministers want to 'get cracking' with plan to deport migrants

The idea to send migrants to Rwanda first emerged in April 2021. Credit: PA

The UK government has said it wants to "get cracking" on sending migrants on a one-way trip to Rwanda, with plans being made for summer deportations.

Cabinet Office minister Oliver Dowden cited challenges in the courts as the reason for why the policy has yet to proceed.

But he expressed confidence the plans are "lawful" and insisted swift action would follow should the courts decide in the government’s favour.

A Home Office source said "we are certainly working towards getting the flights off before the summer", adding that Home Secretary Suella Braverman has acknowledged it is dependent on the pending legal battles.

No migrants have been relocated to the country so far after the deal was signed last April by Ms Braverman’s predecessor Priti Patel.

It comes as Ms Braverman expanded the agreement with Rwanda to incorporate all those illegally entering the UK as opposed to solely asylum seekers.

The addition to the deal is to be put in place to ensure illegal entrants would be detained and swiftly removed under the Illegal Migration Bill (IMB), irrespective of the claim they bring - including asylum, human rights, modern slavery or nothing at all.

Mr Dowden, speaking as Ms Braverman continues her visit to Rwanda’s capital Kigali, told Sky News’s Sophy Ridge On Sunday programme: "The reason why we haven’t been able to proceed with Rwanda is because it’s currently before the courts.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman (centre) tours a building site on the outskirts of Kigali, during her visit to Rwanda. Credit: PA

"We actually succeeded at the High Court stage, it’s before the Court of Appeal.

"But as soon as that process is through - and I’m confident our policy is lawful - we will get cracking straight away with the Rwanda policy and use that as a tool in our armoury."

Asked about the prospect of children being covered by the new immigration regime, Mr Dowden said: "I don’t relish any of this and I really wish we didn’t have to do it, and the government isn’t running to do this.

"The government is doing this because this is a major problem."

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Mr Dowden also defended Ms Braverman’s trip to Rwanda.

The home secretary visited some of the properties which could be used to house asylum seekers, saying: "I really like your interior designer."

Asked whether that comment was "tone deaf", Mr Dowden replied: "Contrary to some of the characterisation of the policy, this is about making sure there is somewhere safe and secure for people to get to.

"The purpose of the home secretary’s visit was to further strengthen our relationships with Rwanda, so people should feel confident in this policy."