Cleverly: Rwanda plan is legally robust and Government determined to deliver it

A “concerted effort” to derail the Rwanda asylum plan through the courts will not prevent planes taking off, James Cleverly said.

The Home Secretary said the Safety of Rwanda Act is “robust” and the scheme to send some asylum seekers on a one-way trip to the African nation will act as a deterrent to prevent small boat crossings of the English Channel.

The High Court in Belfast this week delivered the latest legal setback to the Rwanda scheme, after a judge ruled that provisions of the UK’s Illegal Migration Act should be disapplied in Northern Ireland, as they undermine human rights protections guaranteed in the region under post-Brexit arrangements.


Ministers have insisted that will not prevent flights getting off the ground in early July under the timetable set out by Rishi Sunak, in part because they rely on other legislation.

Mr Cleverly told the PA news agency the Government had been prepared for legal challenges to the Rwanda scheme.

He said: “We’ve recognised that there has been a concerted effort to prevent this policy being deployed through legal challenge.

“And we’ve made sure that the law, the Safety of Rwanda Act, is robust, that it addresses the legal concerns that were highlighted to us.

“Rwanda is a safe and welcoming country. They are keen to work with us, and it’s incredibly important that we have that deterrent.

“People are dying in the channel. People are being abused by people smugglers.

“The Rwanda scheme is part of a deterrent, which is about saving lives and breaking the business model of criminal gangs.

“That’s why the Prime Minister, myself and the whole of government are so determined to deliver on it.”

Rishi Sunak press conference
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has said he expects flights to Rwanda to take off in early July (James Manning/PA)

So far this year, Home Office figures indicate 9,564 people have been detected crossing the channel, the worst total for mid-May on record.

Meanwhile, the Government has signed a new agreement with Bangladesh to speed up the return of migrants with no right to be in the UK.

The measure will cover failed asylum seekers, foreign national offenders and individuals who have overstayed their visas.

Illegal migration minister Michael Tomlinson said: “Speeding up removals is a vital part of our plan to stop people coming or staying here illegally.”