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No 10 Denies Cabinet Minister's Claim Rwanda Scheme Will Be Of "Marginal Benefit"

2 min read

The government has distanced itself from comments by Foreign Office Minister Andrew Mitchell on its controversial Rwanda scheme for asylum seekers, after he said it would only have a "marginal" benefit.

Speaking on Channel 4 News on Sunday, Mitchell said the scheme was "worth exploring", but would be "a marginal benefit".

"What we have to do is to stop these boats and there are a series of other mechanisms which we could use to do that,” he added.

The scheme is a five-year trial that will see some asylum seekers sent to Rwanda to claim asylum there. While the High Court has ruled that it is legal, it faces further challenges in the courts and no flights have yet departed for the African nation.

Asked on Monday specifically whether they agreed with Mitchell that the Rwanda deal would be of "marginal benefit", the Prime Minister's spokesperson said: "Certainly we think it will be an important part of what will be the solution to this."

They went on: "We've always been clear that when it comes to dealing with this challenge, which has been very long standing, there is no single lever or policy that can solve it at once.

"It will be a number of solutions put together that will finally put an end to it and that's what the government working on. Be it the Rwanda partnership, which is a very important part and we are looking to expand that. Or some of the tougher legislation that we are bringing in, or the expansion of the work we are doing with our French counterparts."

The scheme is intended to put migrants off what the government describes as "illegal, dangerous or unnecessary methods" of coming to the UK. 

The most pressing concern politically is small boats crossing the English Channel – in 2022 more than 45,000 people used this route, the highest figure since records began, with 90 crossing on Christmas Day. The figures were lower than predicted: officials had expected about 60,000 people to have made the crossing.

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