Boris Johnson’s multi-million dollar deal to send asylum seekers to Rwanda while their applications are being processed has been condemned as “immoral”, “impractical” and will cost “astronomical”.
The comments from Andrew Mitchell – a Tory MP and former cabinet minister – came after the Prime Minister unveiled the plan, which could see thousands of people being flown over 4,000 miles to the African country.
Andrew Griffith, No10’s Political Leader, said last night it was hoped the new scheme, which comes with an initial payment to the Rwandan government of £120million, would be operational in “weeks or a few months”. become.
But the plans have met fierce opposition from charities and campaign groups, which have urged ministers to abandon the “shamefully cruel” proposals while the government also prepares for human rights lawsuits in court.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Mr Mitchell said he acknowledged ministers were trying to tackle “a terrible problem” after 28,000 people entered the UK “illegally” in 2021.
“The government is rightly trying to break the dirty and deadly model of smugglers and I am totally behind them on that,” he said.
However, the former international development minister added: “The problem with the announced program is that I don’t think it will work.
“It’s impractical, condemned by churches and civil society, immoral and incredibly expensive, especially for conservative advocates.
“The costs are staggering. They will send people 6,000 miles to Central Africa – when it was discussed in Parliament earlier it looked like it would actually be cheaper to house every asylum seeker at the Hotel Ritz in London.”
He added: “The government needs to tell Parliament exactly how much they will estimate these costs because they will be astronomical.”
UK Government Minister for Combating Illegal Migration Tom Pursglove defended the plans on Friday but refused to disclose criteria for those who would be resettled to Rwanda, saying it would play into the hands of “criminal gangs”. .
“The basic test in all of this is that we will only relocate people to Rwanda if it is safe for them to be transferred in this way,” he said.
Asked whether those fleeing persecution, including Uyghur Muslims or Aghans working for Britain, would be sent to Rwanda, he replied: “I won’t go into the specific criteria. I will not speak from nationality to nationality.
“What I can say is that this country prides itself on providing safe and legal routes and offering sanctuary to people.”
Mr Pursglove also declined to discuss the specific cost per person – beyond the original £120m deal with Rwanda – adding: “What we can no longer have is people risking their lives but also spend huge amounts of money, £5 million a day for example we spend on hotel accommodation, it’s just not sustainable.”
When asked if the cost per person would be less than a year at the Ritz Hotel, he continued: “The bottom line is that how long they spend in the Rwandan asylum system will depend very much on the number of people who are resettled in Rwanda to have.
“It is currently impossible to quantify these numbers because there are variables at play that are very relevant to these totals.”
However, Bond, the UK network of NGOs, and more than 160 other UK organizations have condemned the plan, claiming it is “fundamentally at odds with widespread public support for refugees in the UK”.
In an open letter to Prime Minister and Home Secretary Priti Patel, the signatories called on the government to abolish the scheme, halt plans to overhaul the Human Rights Act and “instead provide humane and effective solutions” for those seeking refuge in the UK.
“Sending people seeking asylum to Rwanda will cause immense suffering, with the most vulnerable bearing the brunt,” they wrote.
“This is a shamefully cruel way of treating people who have come to Britain to seek protection, to flee persecution or conflict.”
https://www.independent.ie/world-news/europe/britain/boris-johnsons-plan-to-send-asylum-seekers-to-rwanda-immoral-and-impractical-former-tory-cabinet-minister-says-41556410.html Boris Johnson’s plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda is “immoral and impractical,” says former Tory cabinet minister