Priti Patel is determined to make the move tomorrow on a chartered plane and Downing Street has refused to rule out sending the plane even if just one case comes on board
Image: Peter Macdiarmid/LNP)
A flight deporting migrants from the Channel to Rwanda could even take off with just one passenger on board – but the government says it wouldn’t be a waste of money.
A plane is due to depart tomorrow but activists are trying to thwart the plan.
Home Office sources said human rights lawyers had filed a “flood” of legal claims on behalf of 31 people to be deported – down from some 130 originally.
The flight to Rwanda tomorrow has to take almost 10 asylum seekers – if it takes off at all, of course. And that could be reduced even further.
Because in addition to a general complaint about the entire flight before the Court of Appeal, the lawyers of individual refugees are bringing complaints on the grounds of human rights and modern slavery.
By last night the number had dwindled to just over 10, a government source told the Mirror. The source predicted that the number would be below 10 by the time of the next update today.
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Asked if he could say “more than one person” would be on the first plane, Environment Secretary George Eustice said: “Lawyers will continue to make such noises but of course we have an agreement with Rwanda.
“I think it was a very big step forward when Home Secretary Priti Patel finalized this agreement – it’s something that governments and oppositions have been talking about as a possible solution for about 20 years for a very long time.”
Over the weekend, an Interior Ministry source said the flight would depart “even if there is only one migrant on the plane”.
And today Downing Street refused to rule out sending an entire charter plane with just one asylum seeker on board.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “I am not aware that there is a set limit”.
When asked if that was bad money, he claimed the current approach costs taxpayers £1.5billion every year, including nearly £5million a day for hotel accommodation for asylum seekers.
The Court of Appeal is hearing arguments from two human rights groups and a labor union after a judge denied their request for an injunction to block the plane’s take-off.
The judge said last week there was a “substantial public interest” in allowing the government to continue with this policy.
The Supreme Court is hearing separately claims by refugee aid organization Asylum Aid, which has filed a second legal challenge to stop the government from flying refugees to Rwanda.
Ministers insist the deal with Kigali will help deter desperate migrants from making the perilous journey through the Strait of Dover – the world’s busiest shipping lane.
Thousands have already arrived on British shores this year after traveling in small dinghies.
Boris Johnson hit back today after claims Prince Charles branded his asylum plan in Rwanda “appalling”.
The Prime Minister initially dodged an answer as to whether the Prince of Wales was “wrong” in alleged private comments about the policy of forcing asylum seekers on a 5,000-mile charter flight.
But he specifically said “most people” could see that criminal gangs “need to be stopped”.
And when he asked head-on one last time if the Prince of Wales was wrong, he replied: “I answered that in the sense that I think it’s the government’s job to stop people from breaking the law , and to support people who are doing the right thing.
“We do that.”
Mr Johnson himself was fined two months ago for breaching Covid laws.
Reports emerged over the weekend that Prince Charles had privately branded the policy “appalling” and said he was “beyond disappointed” by it.
Clarence House did not confirm or deny his statements, insisting he “remains politically neutral”.
Boris Johnson’s spokesman said: “The Prime Minister has nothing but respect and admiration for the Prince of Wales, who has spoken out on a range of issues, not least the environment.
“But as the Prime Minister made clear this morning, the government has a duty, he has a duty, to protect vulnerable people who are being targeted by criminal gangs.”
https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/taxpayer-funded-rwanda-flight-could-27219468 A taxpayer-funded Rwanda flight could take off with just one person on board