Priti Patel Accuses Rwanda Scheme Critics Of Degrading The African Country
Home Secretary Priti Patel has accused the Labour party and opponents of the government’s plan to send migrants to Rwanda of talking down and “traducing” the east African state.
In a statement delivered to the Commons on Wednesday, Patel said she felt “saddened” by the attitude of opposition, who she claims think Rwanda is a “lovely country, good enough to host international summits and world dignitaries, but not for people to be relocated”.
Under the contentious new Home Office plans, male adult asylum seekers arriving illegally in the UK are forcibly relocated to Rwanda.
The first one-way flight under the scheme was halted by a last-minute intervention from the European Court of Human Rights on Tuesday night
Tuesday’s chartered flight was scheduled to take off from a military airport in Wiltshire at 10.30pm, at a cost of around £500,000.
Numerous legal challenges in domestic courts reduced the number of planned passengers due to leave throughout the day, but it was a late-night ruling by the ECHR in Strasbourg that prevented the plane from taking off.
Patel said she was “disappointed” by the court’s decision but added plans are already underway for further flights to go ahead.
“The British people have repeatedly voted for controlled immigration and the right to secure borders,” the Home Secretary told the Commons on Tuesday.
“This is a government that acts and hears that message clearly and we are determined to deliver that,” she added.
Individuals taken off the flight as a result of the ECHR’s ruling will be tagged and monitored by the Home Office until government receives full legal clearing to continue with removal plans.
“Those prohibitions last for different time periods but are not an absolute bar on their transfer to Rwanda,” Patel said.
“We remain committed to this policy.”
The Home Secretary strongly criticised Labour and the “mob rule” protestors opposed to the Rwanda scheme as having degraded the African state.
“It has saddened me to see Rwanda so terribly misrepresented and traduced in recent weeks,” Patel said.
“Rwanda is a safe and secure country with an outstanding track record of supporting refugees and asylum seekers,” she added.
The Home Secretary accused Labour of opposing the policy without proposing a viable solution to the issue of “illegal immigration”.
“They know that people are dying in the channel but they simply do not have a single workable solution between them,” she said.
“The party opposite are now clutching at straws when they come to talk about money but you cannot put a price on saving lives.
Responding to Patel, Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper described the debacle of Tuesday’s failed flight as a “shambles”.
“It is shameful and the Home Secretary has no one but herself to blame,” Cooper said.
The Shadow Home Secretary also accused Patel of knowing that among the passengers on set to be removed were victims of torture and trafficking and some of them may be children.
“She knows that there is a lack of proper asylum capacity in Rwanda to make fair decisions,” Cooper said.
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