UK

Home Office ‘planning to send migrants to Rwanda’ for processing

Boris Johnson is set to announce plans to send migrants to Rwanda to be processed, it has been reported.

The prime minister is edging closer to unveiling proposals to fly asylum seekers to Rwanda for processing and settlement, according to reports in The Times.

The Home Office did not deny the reports, with a spokesperson telling Sky News: “As set out in our New Plan for Immigration, we are committed to working closely with a range of international partners as we continue to fix our broken asylum system.”

The newspaper says the plans, which were intended to be announced last week during a surge in migrants attempting to cross the Channel, could cost the UK “millions”.

The original report contains a government source stating that the plans are “close” but not yet “ready”.

It is suggested that ministers are said to be waiting for Home Secretary Priti Patel’s Nationality and Borders Bill to pass through the Lords.

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Migrants try to sneak on to UK-bound lorries

Backlash to Nationality and Borders Bill

The bill, which has been branded as “barbaric” by critics, returned to the Commons last month, having been heavily amended by peers in the House of Lords.

Three Conservative MPs, former ministers David Davis, Andrew Mitchell and Simon Hoare, rebelled against the government over plans contained in the bill for an offshore processing system for asylum seekers.

But their attempts to change the government’s contentious asylum and immigration reforms were unsuccessful.

Mr Mitchell questioned how much such a policy would cost, suggesting to ministers that housing asylum seekers at the Ritz or Eton would be cheaper than offshoring the process.

Read more:
What is the Nationality and Borders Bill?

Mr Davis described such a move as creating “a British Guantanamo Bay” and said it would be a “moral, economic and practical failure”.

The legislation will now return to the Lords for peers to examine again in what is known as ‘parliamentary ping-pong’.

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A Channel migrant-smuggling travel agent defends his role in the trade

Offshore processing ‘could feature in Queen’s Speech’

An announcement on offshore processing could feature in the Queen’s Speech next month if the bill gains royal assent before it.

At least 4,550 people have reached the UK aboard small boats so far in 2022, according to data compiled by Sky News.

That figure was not reached last year until mid-June.

The Home Office did not comment on reports relating to any specific countries.

There were previously similar attempts to process migrants in Albania and Ghana but they fell through.

Read more:
Nearly 60,000 set to cross English Channel in 2022

Ascension Island, a UK overseas territory over 4,000 miles away, was also recently proposed as a destination, though last month Tom Pursglove, the Home Office minister, said it was “untrue” to suggest the island was an option.

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Migrants in Calais say deaths are ‘no deterrent’

Minister says there is ‘clear rationale’ for the policy

In January, Ms Patel confirmed she has asked the Ministry of Defence to put the Royal Navy in charge of policing small boats crossing the Channel.

It was reported the plans – nicknamed Operation Big Dog – were drawn up to save Mr Johnson’s premiership as he faced calls to resign over the Downing Street lockdown parties scandal.

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