Priti Patel insists Rwanda scheme not 'one-sided'
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Under the Rwanda deal, signed off by Ms Patel and praised by Boris Johnson as a way of saving hundreds of people from trafficking, those arriving by small boat across the Channel would be flown with a one-way ticket to Rwanda. Britain has promised Rwanda an initial £120million as part of an “economic transformation and integration fund” but the UK will be paying for operational costs too.
However, no details have been released by the Home Office.
The Home Secretary issued a rare ministerial direction to overrule concerns of civil servants about whether the scheme would deliver value for money.
Backing up the Government for the initiative, an audience member on the political programme said: “Priti Patel has come up with the idea of sending illegal immigrants crossing the Channel to Rwanda in Africa.
“Why is this not okay?”
He added: “The Labour Party and the Liberal Party and now the Archbishop of Canterbury have still not come up with a better idea and this has been on people’s minds since about 2014.”
When asked if “it’s a good idea”, the audience member said: “It’s a practical idea. No one has come up with a better idea.
“If I just mention my friends are Liberal and Labour supporters, I ask them regularly, and they can’t come up with an idea to stop the crossings.”
Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey, who voiced his opposition to the scheme over cost and practicality, said he would instead put forward safe settlement routes.
He said: “I am against it because it’s both extremely expensive and it’s going to be completely impractical and unworkable.
“I just don’t support things that are going to be a waste of money and just won’t work.
“There is a very good reason other countries do this. They have what are called safe settlement routes.”
Ms Patel has been the subject of significant judicial criticism for repeatedly failing to disclose key policy documents, including those relating to the confiscation of phones from newly arrived refugees and contentious plans to task Border Force to “push back” boats carrying refugees across the Channel.
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Fewer than 200 people who came to the UK without authorisation would have been sent to Rwanda last year, analysis of government figures found.
The Refugee Council said 172 people could have been sent to the east African country had a deal been in place.
It estimates that this year the number is not likely to be much higher.
The figures cast doubt on Johnson’s claim that “tens of thousands” of people who have arrived in the UK without authorisation could be given a one-way ticket to Rwanda.
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