Home Office officials are currently in Kigali “putting the final touches” on a new treaty.

By Michael Knowles, Home Affairs and Defence Editor

Migrants Continue To Cross The Channel From France

Migrants crossing the English Channel (Image: Getty)

Rishi Sunak has suggested British courts will be unable to ground future migrant flights to Rwanda.

The Prime Minister told concerned Tory MPs new emergency legislation will make it “crystal clear” Rwanda is a safe country.

Home Office officials are currently in Kigali “putting the final touches” on a new treaty.

Emergency legislation will then follow, despite repeated delays, to declare Rwanda is safe.

Conservative MPs are warning ministers they must disapply the European Convention on Human Rights to the new laws to prevent Strasbourg from repeatedly blocking the laws.

The first flight was prevented from taking off last June and both the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court have since ruled the scheme was illegal amid fears it would breach a migrant’s human rights.

The Prime Minister said: “When it comes to stopping illegal migration I’ve been crystal clear, we will bring forward legislation that makes it unequivocally the case that Rwanda is safe and there will be no more ability of our domestic courts to block flights to Rwanda.”

Migrants Attempt Final Channel Crossings Ahead Of Weather Change

Migrants arriving in the UK after crossing the Channel (Image: Getty)

It is the clearest hint yet of the Prime Minister’s determination to ensure the first flight to Kigali can take off.

Mr Sunak had previously only said the new legislation would prevent foreign courts – such as the European Court of Human Rights – from blocking flights to Kigali.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer claimed the Prime Minister is the “only person on the Tory benches without his own personal immigration plan”.

But fighting back, Mr Sunak said: “It is really a bit rich to hear about this from someone who described all immigration law as racist, who literally said it was a mistake to control immigration.

“We have taken steps and we will take further steps, which is why recent estimates of immigration show that it is slowing.

But senior Home Office staff also on Wednesday revealed the bill for the Rwanda scheme – already £140m –will surge.

Speaking to the Commons Home Affairs Committee on Wednesday, Sir Matthew Rycroft, the Permanent Secretary at the Home Office, said: “The negotiation of that treaty is ongoing. In fact, there’s a Home Office and wider team in Kigali as we speak, putting the finishing touches to that negotiation.

“And I think it’d be premature to say anything about the content of that.”

Asked by committee chairwoman Dame Diana Johnson whether “anything else had been given to the Rwandan government”, in addition to the confirmed £140 million, Sir Matthew added: “So there are additional payments each year and ministers have decided that the way to keep you and other colleagues in Parliament updated is once a year to set out the total additional payments to the government of Rwanda.

“And we’ll do that in the annual report and accounts. So the figures that you set out, the £120 million (initial payment when the deal was initially signed) plus £20 million are the payments from the 2022 to 2023 financial year and then any payments in 2023/24, we will announce in the normal way in the next annual report.”

Asked again to confirm whether any further payments had already been made, Sir Matthew said: “We will announce that in the normal way next summer.”

Migrants Cross English Channel From France

Migrants crossing the English Channel (Image: Getty)


    The Daily Express understands other countries are monitoring the UK’s pact with Rwanda and are willing to agree similar migrant deals if they succeed in deporting migrants.

    Other European countries are also considering such moves.

    But the Home Office is also coming under fire after being accused of losing 17,316 migrants.

    Home Office figures published on Thursday showed 17,316 asylum applications were withdrawn in the year to September.

    This is more than four times the number for the previous year when there were 4,260, the department said.

    The Prime Minister tasked the Home Office with clearing some of the backlog of “legacy” cases – asylum applications made before June 28 2022 – by the end of December.

    Questioning the officials, committee member Tim Loughton asked: “Isn’t it strange that conveniently, when faced with a very stiff target, there has been a three-fold increase (in withdrawals) for undetermined reasons, people magically not going forward with their claims, and where are those people?”

    Mr Ridley replied: “In most cases, I don’t know where those people are.”

    Asked if they had gone home, Mr Ridley said: “I don’t know.”

    Pressed again, Mr Loughton said: “So you have no idea where those 17,316 people are?”

    To which, Mr Ridley replied: “I don’t think we know where all those people are, no.”

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