Last two migrants bound for Rwanda to be bailed, Home Office says

Migrants crossing the English Channel on a small boat
Migrants crossing the English Channel on a small boat [EPA]

The two last remaining migrants who are detained and waiting to be sent to Rwanda will be bailed in the coming days, the government has said.

The Home Office also revealed that a further 218 migrants were released on bail from detention centres by the previous government during the election campaign.

They were due to be deported to the east-central African country as part of previous PM Rishi Sunak's policy to tackle illegal immigration.

On his first full day as prime minister, Sir Keir Starmer confirmed the Rwanda deportation scheme is "dead and buried".

Keir Starmer speaks during a news conference following his first cabinet meeting, at Downing Street

At his first press conference since entering No 10, the Prime Minister told journalists the scheme has "never been a deterrent" as it would only deport "less than1%" of small boat arrivals.

Scores of asylum seekers were taken into detention from late April, after Rishi Sunak said that flights would leave in the first weeks of July.

Under the Conservative government, the Home Office refused to confirm the number of people detained for Rwanda.

The BBC now understands a total of 220 people were detained with the purpose of being sent to Rwanda under the scheme.

Home Secretary Yvette Cooper has said she would like recruitment for a new "border security commander" to take place over the summer, and a new Border Security Bill to be included in the first King’s Speech.

A spokesperson for the home secretary said the Rwanda scheme was "an extortionate gimmick".

"If the last prime minister had believed it would work, he wouldn’t have called an election before a flight went off.

“During the election campaign, the previous government had released 218 people previously detained pending removal to Rwanda were bailed. At this time, only 2 people remain in detention. These will be bailed in coming days.”

They also confirmed plans are under way to boost capacity in the National Crime Agency to go after criminal people-smuggling gangs.

The financial implications of scrapping the Rwanda scheme and the total bill to the taxpayer are not yet known.

A question mark still hangs over the fate of the approximately 52,000 Channel migrants in the UK who are earmarked for deportation.

The Labour manifesto pledged to curb small boats crossing the Channel by hiring investigators and using counter-terror powers to "smash" criminal people smuggling gangs.

The new government has set illegal migration as one of their key priorities, but has yet to reveal the full details of their scheme.