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Home Office Will Do “Whatever Is Necessary" To Ensure Rwanda Deportation Flights Go Ahead


4 min read

A Home Office minister has said the government will do “whatever is necessary” to deter appeals by asylum seekers due to be removed to Rwanda that could cause further delays to the first deportation flight.

The first flight to Rwanda as part of Priti Patel’s controversial plan to tackle illegal migration is due to leave tomorrow, despite legal attempts to halt its departure by refugee charities Detention Action and Care4Calais, and the Border Force staff union, PCS.

A high court judge ruled on Friday that the flight could go ahead, and this decision was upheld by the Court of Appeal on Monday afternoon.

Around 30 people were originally set to be on the flight, but only eight people are currently set to board the plane tomorrow morning following appeals, according to charity Care4Calais.

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister said the government “certainly intends” that the flight will go ahead tomorrow, and it is understood that it will take place even if as few as one asylum seeker is on board. 

Tory MP Paul Holmes, who resigned as parliamentary private secretary to Priti Patel over the partygate scandal, urged the government to bring in “any legislation necessary to see that this House's wishes are carried through”.

Responding to an urgent question in the Commons on Monday, Home Office minister Tom Pursglove suggested that the government would consider further legislative changes to ensure future departures could not be frustrated by legal challenges.

Pursglove said the Prime Minister had repeatedly stated that the government “will do whatever is necessary to deliver on this policy”, and added that the Home Office “do not believe that failure is an option”. 

“We must shut these evil criminal gangs down. That's what the British people want, what the British people expect and that's precisely what we're going to do,” he added. 

Calls for legislative changes were echoed by Tory MP Lee Anderson, who said the government needed to plug the “loopholes” in existing laws which were allowing for appeals.

“We always knew it was going to be a game of cat and mouse. We always knew we'd have legal challenges,” he told PoliticsHome.

“The victory is that flights are going ahead. We've proved now that the flight can go ahead.”

“If other bits of the legislation need tweaking, and we need to adapt it to make sure that more and more people get on those flights, then so be it.”

Anderson suggested that this could be achieved by adapting existing mechanisms which have enabled the Rwanda deportations, or via changes in the upcoming Bill of Rights.

He added that the government will “keep on at” reforming the UK’s immigration legislation “until it's absolutely watertight” to prevent deportation appeals.

Another Tory MP said that “symbolically” it was important that the first flight to Rwanda depart tomorrow even though it “may contain only small numbers”.

“I see the whole Rwanda issue as rather attritional. There will be ups and downs and it will take some time,” they told PoliticsHome.

“[I’m] confident though if Government remain resolute one way or another they will be successful."

The MP, who was elected in 2019, said the first flight was “something to build on” but believed there would need to be “significant numbers” removed to Rwanda in the future for the policy to have a deterrent effect.

Despite the majority of those scheduled to board the flight successfully appealing their removal, the Court of Appeal ruled on Monday that it "cannot interfere" with the original decision allowing the flight to go ahead.

Lord Justice Singh said "we consider that the judge produced a detailed and careful judgement which is all the more impressive in view of the time constraints under which he had to give it" in this "urgent and important case".

The judge responsible for last week’s decision, Justice Swift, claimed in his judgement that there was a “material public interest” in allowing Home Secretary Priti Patel to be able to implement immigration control decisions.

But lawyers acting for the asylum seekers and various campaign groups have argued the policy is unlawful.

Speaking on Monday, shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper called the policy “unworkable, unethical and expensive” and urged the government to “think again”.

The Church of England leadership has also condemned the policy, claiming in a letter due to be published in The Times on Tuesday that the plan is an "immoral policy that shames Britain".

The letter reads: "Whether or not the first deportation flight leaves Britain today for Rwanda, this policy should shame us as a nation. 

“The shame is our own, because our Christian heritage should inspire us to treat asylum seekers with compassion, fairness and justice, as we have for centuries."

According to The Times, Prince Charles has privately called the plans “appalling”.

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