Rwanda asylum plan: PM defends scheme as legal challenges fail

Boris Johnson has defended plans to fly asylum seekers to Rwanda as four men due to be on the first flight failed in their bids to avoid being removed.

Currently, seven people are expected to be on the flight, due to depart from a Ministry of Defence site later.

The PM said he had always known the scheme would attract “plenty of legal challenges” and said the government may “very well” need to change the law.

The Church of England and human rights groups have criticised the plan.

A last-ditch attempt to block the flight altogether was rejected by the Court of Appeal on Monday, and subsequently upheld by the Supreme Court on Tuesday.

The flight was meant to be removing dozens of people – estimated to be 37 by a Home Office source – but legal challenges mean there will be no more than seven on board.

Four men were unsuccessful in their efforts against being removed at the High Court on Tuesday.

One man who is due to be on Tuesday’s flight told the BBC he would “prefer to die” than be sent to Rwanda.

Speaking through an interpreter before he lost his appeal, the 25-year-old Iranian-Kurd said he had been kidnapped and abused by human traffickers on his way to the UK.

He said he had been told that Rwanda did not have a good record of human rights and that he had “expected more from the UK”.

“Since I learned that I am among those to be deported to Rwanda, I hardly can communicate and eat. I’m restless. I prefer to die, not to be transferred there; it’s shocking,” he said.

More than 270 people were seen being brought ashore at Dover on Tuesday after crossing the Channel.

It brings the total to make the crossing this year to more than 10,500 according to figures collated by the BBC.

Speaking to cabinet ministers earlier, Mr Johnson said the government was “going to get on and deliver” on its asylum plan.

He told ministers the objective was to ensure there was a “clear distinction” between immigration to the UK by safe and legal routes that the government supports and “dangerous and illegal cross-Channel migration, which we intend to stop”.

Before Mr Johnson addressed cabinet, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss told the BBC the flight would leave even if a very small number of people were on it.

“If people aren’t on the flight today, they will be on subsequent flights to Rwanda,” she said.

She also declined to say how much the flight would cost, but argued the cost of human trafficking and illegal immigration was “huge” to the taxpayer.

Source: BBC

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