Government “Expects” First Rwanda Flight To Take Off Tonight
Foreign secretary Liz Truss has said the government fully expects their first deportation flight to depart for Rwanda tonight despite last-minute legal challenges, and has defended the policy as "completely moral".
But Truss was unable to say how many people will actually be on board the plane after individual appeals are to continue today and right up until it is due to take off. Around seven people are expected to be removed from the flight today following successful legal challenges.
"We are expecting to send the flight later today,” Truss told Sky News. “I can't say exactly how many people will be on the flight but the really important thing is we establish the principle and we start to break the business model of these appalling people traffickers who are trading in misery.
“That is why we're doing this policy and that's why it's important we get the flight out today."
The contentious policy has faced sharp criticism in recent days, including from opposition parties and human rights organisations. According to The Times, Prince Charles has privately described the policy as "appalling", and every senior Bishop in the Church of England said the proposal "shames Britain” in an open letter published in The Times.
Hundreds of protesters took part in a demonstration outside the Home Office in Westminster on Monday after the government secured a legal victory when three Court of Appeal judges upheld a High Court ruling last week that the removals could go ahead.
But currently only seven of the initial 31 asylum seekers have been placed on evening’s flight to the central African country’s capital Kigali, according to the charity Care4Calais.
There are further challenges due to be brought by individuals who face removal at the High Court on Tuesday, and deportations can be prevented until the last minute before the scheduled take off at 9.30pm.
Truss was insistent that "there will be people on the flight", in response to suggestions that legal challenges could result in all those due to be deported being removed from it.
"If they are not on this flight they will be on the next flight," she added.
The foreign secretary could not say how much money the government's flight to Rwanda will cost, but insisted it “is value for money”.
She also dismissed condemnation by Church leaders, including archbishops of Canterbury and York who have called the policy “immoral”.
"I don't agree with that, the people who are immoral in this case are the people traffickers trading in human misery,” Truss said.
"Those people need to suggest an alternative policy that will work. Our policy is completely legal, it's completely moral.
"What I'm saying to the critics of the policy who don't have an alternative about how we deal with this illegal migration, is they don't have an alternative, they are criticising our policy which is effective and does work."
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