Nothing has changed in James Cleverly's new asylum treaty, Rwandan government claims

James Cleverly signs a new treaty and discuses key next steps on the so-called 'migration and economic development partnership', ITV News' UK Editor Paul Brand reports

James Cleverly feels "very strongly" that the government's new asylum treaty with Rwanda will satisfy legal concerns, while the Rwandan government claims nothing has changed.

The home secretary is the third in 18 months to visit Kigali, as Rishi Sunak accelerates his pledge to stop the boats and bring down levels of illegal migration.

Mr Cleverly signed the new asylum treaty with Rwanda on Tuesday, after the Supreme Court ruled in November that the plan in its original form was unlawful.

But speaking to ITV News, a spokesperson for the Rwandan government said "there's nothing wrong with the [original] treaty" and the "guarantees" outlined in the new agreement "already existed".

Emergency domestic legislation is also planned to label Rwanda a safe destination for asylum seekers who arrive in Britain, and could be introduced to parliament next week.

'We feel very strongly that this treaty addresses all the issues raised in the Supreme Court', home secretary James Cleverly declares in Rwanda

"We feel very strongly that this treaty addresses all of the issues raised by their Lordships in the supreme court and we have worked very closely with our Rwandan partners to ensure it does so," Mr Cleverly said in a press conference in Rwanda.

He added that he "cannot see any credible reason" why the African nation would continue to have its track record questioned, and hopes planes carrying illegal migrants will take off "quickly".

The treaty is binding in international law and means people relocated to Rwanda under the deal will not be at risk of being returned to their home country, according to the Home Office.

The act - known as refoulement - was a key factor behind the Supreme Court's unanimous decision in November.

But the Rwandan government has insisted this was never a danger and the new treaty "re-emphasises guarantees" that were already in the agreement signed last year.

Yolande Makolo said: "I wouldn't say it changes as such, what we are doing is re-emphasising guarantees that were already in the agreement signed last year".

"This is to address concerns raised during the legal process," she added, before saying: "We have reinforced these guarantees in the legally binding treaty that we signed today."

Nothing has changed in the government's new asylum deal with Rwanda, its government spokesperson tells ITV News

In a press conference with Mr Cleverly on Tuesday, Rwanda’s foreign affairs minister Vincent Biruta said the country had been "unfairly treated" by international organisations, the media, and the courts over the asylum deal.

Asked why Rwanda was "bending over backwards" to get the scheme up and running, Mr Biruta said: "It is not helpful for all of us to criticise a country like Rwanda which is contributing to a solution while we are not even addressing the root causes… which produce those refugees."

He invited critics to offer "alternatives" to the plan and said now was the time to "move forward" with the partnership, which he said Rwanda is "very much committed" to.

Elsewhere, immigration minister Robert Jenrick said he is confident that flights carrying asylum seekers will take off for the African nation before the next general election, but refused to say whether or not the UK will withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) in order to make it happen.

Mr Jenrick was pressed by UK broadcasters on Tuesday about what the emergency legislation before parliament will consist of.

It comes as rumours continue to swirl that the UK is prepared to withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) in order to get flights leaving.

"I'm not going to go into the detail of what's in the bill, but we've said we need to do whatever it takes to get the scheme up and running, and that's exactly what we'll do," Mr Jenrick told ITV News.

The Supreme Court ruled against the Government’s plan last month Credit: Tom Pilgrim/PA

There has been rife speculation that Rwanda asked for more money as part of the treaty, but this has been denied by both Downing Street and Mr Cleverly.

"Let me make it clear," Mr Cleverly told the press conference in Kigali.

"The Rwandan government has not asked for and we have not provided any funding linked to the signing of this treaty. "The financial arrangement which inevitably comes as part of an international agreement reflects the costs that may be imposed on Rwanda through the changes that this partnership has created in their systems: in their legal systems and their institutions. “No money was asked for by the Rwandans for this treaty. No money was provided to the Rwandans for this treaty. “Dealing with migration is important and it is not a cost-free option, but we regard it as the right thing to do.”

'There's nothing wrong with the treaty, these guarantees already existed', the spokesperson for the Rwandan government tells ITV News

Meanwhile, Labour still appears undecided on whether or not they would scrap the Rwanda deportation scheme if they come into government after the next general election.

Speaking to ITV News, Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper admitted the money for Rwanda should go into "tackling the criminal gangs" instead, but stopped short of committing a Labour government to scrapping the programme entirely.

"We think that the Rwanda scheme is failing," Ms Cooper told ITV News.

"We think we should put that money into tackling criminal gangs instead. That would be a far more effective use of money rather than this continually failing scheme, continually writing huge cheques to Rwanda, money we can't get back".

The shadow home secretary added that "more home secretaries have been sent to Rwanda than asylum seekers", but refused to say if a Labour government would stop flights.

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