The Prime Minister is aiming to fly the first asylum seekers, believed to have entered the UK illegally, to Rwanda in about six weeks to curb the Channel crossing
Boris Johnson wants the first flight of asylum seekers in about six weeks to be flown to Rwanda as part of a containment plan canal crossings.
The Prime Minister is reportedly keen to get the ball moving to remove people believed to have entered the UK illegally, including those risking their lives in often unsafe dinghies and boats, to reach the south coast.
His plan is to start flying people out to Rwanda next month and take in thousands in the years to come.
However, the government is prepared for the widely criticized plans to be challenged in court, which could prove an obstacle to their progress.
Andrew Griffith, the policy director at No10, said it was hoped the program would be operational in “weeks or a few months”.
Asked when he expects the first person to be sent to Rwanda, the Conservative MP told BBC Newsnight: “No new legislation is needed – we think we can do this within the framework of existing conventions.
“And so it should be possible to implement and operationalize this in weeks or a few months. So we are ready to go in that spirit.”
But both the Prime Minister and Home Secretary Priti Patel have acknowledged the plans could be challenged in court.
The cost of the program remains uncertain, but The Times reported that each person sent to Rwanda is expected to pay back between £20,000 and £30,000 to British taxpayers.
The newspaper said this would cover accommodation both before and after the trip, as well as the cost of a seat on the flight itself.
The home secretary has struck a £120million economic deal with Rwanda and cash is expected to follow for any move.
On Thursday, protesters holding signs reading “Refugees Welcome Here” gathered outside the Home Office and declared their intention to “stand back” against the move.
Charities condemned the plans as “cruel and disgusting” and claimed they were failing to address the issue and causing more “sorrow and chaos” while criticizing Rwanda’s human rights record.
But Mr Johnson insisted the scheme was not “draconian and unsympathetic”.
Speaking in Kent, he said the agreement was “unlimited” and that Rwanda had the “capacity to relocate tens of thousands of people over the coming years”.
He said the partnership would “fully comply with our international legal obligations” while insisting Rwanda is “one of the safest countries in the world”.
“Nevertheless, we expect this to be challenged in court,” Mr Johnson added, as he lashed out at what he called an “impressive army of politically motivated lawyers”.
During a visit to the Rwandan capital, Kigali, Ms Patel said the Home Office was prepared for legal challenges as she accused lawyers of “obscuring the British taxpayer”.
Stephanie Boyce, President of the Law Society of England and Wales, warned there were “serious questions” about the compatibility of the plans with international law.
“It is particularly disappointing – this week of all times – that the government is repeating misleading suggestions that legal challenges are politically motivated,” she said.
“If the government wants to avoid losing court cases, it should act within the law of the country.”
Labor MP Nadia Whittome, who attended the protest outside the Home Office, said the “incredible” turnout showed the government had “grossly misjudged” the country’s mood on the issue.
She said: “I think people’s response to Afghan refugees, to Ukrainian refugees… the people of this country have been so, so much more generous than this government.
“I think most people you know would agree that it’s not a Sudanese engineer that increased our energy prices by 54%. It’s not a Syrian worker who got rid of all our social housing and then stopped building.
“It’s the fault of this government that people are fighting. People don’t have the life we deserve.”
Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer called the plans “unworkable”, “blackmailing” and an attempt to distract from Mr Johnson being fined for breaking his own pandemic laws.
The deal with Rwanda is being understood in effect as a deportation deal, relocating those the government deems ineligible under UK asylum rules.
It is believed that the East African nation’s government will process the applications and those that are successful will be granted Rwandan refugee status.
This would differ from the UK’s plans to process asylum applications offshore, which would see people sent to another country or location while their applications were examined and then sent back upon approval.
https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/boris-johnson-wants-first-asylum-26718312 Boris Johnson wants the first asylum seekers to be flown to Rwanda "in six weeks".