We want to “get cracking” on sending migrants to Rwanda, says the minister

The British government has said it wants to “get tough” on sending migrants on a one-way trip to Rwanda, with plans for summer deportations.

Minister Oliver Dowden cited challenges in the courts as the reason the policy has not yet moved forward.

But he expressed confidence that the plans are “legal” and insisted swift action would follow should the courts rule in the government’s favour.

A Home Office source said “we are certainly working to get the planes off before the summer”, adding that Home Secretary Suella Braverman has acknowledged it is dependent on the ongoing legal battles.

No migrants have been relocated to the country so far after the agreement was signed last April by Braverman’s predecessor Priti Patel.

It comes as Braverman expanded the deal with Rwanda to include all those entering the UK illegally, as opposed to just asylum seekers.

The amendment to the agreement will be in place to ensure that illegal entrants will be arrested and swiftly removed under the Illegal Migration Act (IMB), regardless of the claim they bring – including asylum, human rights, modern slavery or nothing at all.

Mr Dowden, speaking as Braverman continues his visit to Rwanda’s capital Kigali, told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge On Sunday programme: “The reason we have not been able to continue with Rwanda is because it is currently before the courts .

“We actually succeeded at the Supreme Court stage, that’s for the Court of Appeal.

“But as soon as that process is through – and I’m sure our policy is legal – we will immediately break with the Rwanda policy and use it as a tool in our arsenal.”

Asked about the prospect of children being covered by the new immigration regime, Mr Dowden said: “I don’t like any of this and I really wish we didn’t have to do it and the government is not running to do this .

– The government is doing this because this is a big problem.

Mr Dowden also defended Braverman’s trip to Rwanda.

The Home Secretary visited some of the properties that could be used to house asylum seekers and said: “I really like your interior designer.”

Asked if that comment was “tone deaf”, Dowden replied: “Contrary to some of the characterization of the policy, this is about making sure there is a safe and secure place for people to come to.

“The purpose of the Home Secretary’s visit was to further strengthen our relationship with Rwanda, so people should feel confident about this policy.”

Dowden also criticized Gary Lineker’s attack on the government’s immigration rhetoric.

Asked about the football pundit’s comparison of the language used by ministers to that deployed in Germany in the 1930s, Mr Dowden said: “I find it deeply offensive.

“The comparison between the policy of this government to legally stop dangerous, illegal migration and the evil of the Nazi regime – I find it frightening that people can draw parallels between the two.”

For Labour, shadow community secretary Lisa Nandy defended Lineker when she told the same programme: “What people say Gary Lineker said is very different to what Gary Lineker actually said.

“The government has been keen to say that he has compared this to the Nazis, he wasn’t – and I would absolutely condemn if he had – I don’t think he would have.

“What he was pointing to was a chilling comparison to an environment where people are not free to challenge this kind of language and behaviour.”

Nandy also criticized the government’s “unethical, unworkable” Rwanda policy and suggested that money from the £140m deal should be used to help the National Crime Agency’s efforts to tackle criminal gangs profiting from canal crossings.

She said: “Everybody accepts that this is a big problem, a crisis. We have a record number of boats coming to the coast, criminal gangs operating and an asylum system in chaos.

“But the question is, what is the government actually doing? So far they have done several PR opportunities and photo ops. We have received £140 million in checks written to Rwanda to implement a scheme that has not removed a single person.

“These are just more stunts by this government.”

Asked whether it was possible to “stop the boats”, Miguel Berger, Germany’s ambassador to the UK, told Sky News: “It is very difficult to say whether it will be possible, but I agree that it is a bigger problem, it’s not just what’s happening in the channel.

“I think we need to look at migration routes from Libya, Turkey, Tunisia, from many other countries, we have climate change producing more refugees, so ultimately we need strong international cooperation to tackle this problem.”

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