Politics

Boris insists sending asylum seekers to Rwanda ‘legal’ despite court bids to ground flight

Rwanda plan is 'not working' says ex Brexit MEP

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Lawyers for more than 90 migrants have submitted legal challenges asking to stay in the UK with the other 40 expected to follow shortly. The Daily Express understands that if the flight is delayed, Home Office officials may have to release asylum seekers being held in detention centres. Rules on immigration detentions require migrants to be released if the flight will not happen in a reasonable timeframe.

But the Home Office is understood to be prepared to tag and release those currently detained in immigration detention centres.

Sources would not rule out using GPS tags to monitor people in the future.

But officials said the group due to be sent to Rwanda next week will not be tagged.

Downing Street insisted the Prime Minister remains confident that the policy of sending asylum seekers to Rwanda is legal despite a court bid to prevent the practice being launched.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “Yes, we remain confident in our position, should the legal challenges require us going to the courts, we will argue our case.

“It’s true to say the first flight is due for next week so we have that ready to go.”

Conservative MP Peter Bone called for new legislation allowing deportations to Rwanda to be brought to the Commons “immediately” if current plans are stopped in the courts.

The MP for Wellingborough said: “Parliament decides the laws, the court interprets them.

“Now, I understand it is likely that the flights to Rwanda with economic migrants, which was passed as lawful by this House, has been challenged in the court.”

He asked: “If the courts decide that somewhere the legislation is wrong, that he will immediately introduce new legislation to fix it so that we can end the people smuggling across the English Channel?”

Commons Leader Mark Spencer said: “He is right that we do have to wait until there is an interpretation by those courts that I understand are looking at it.

“But I know he will be reassured by the fact that the Home Secretary is committed to making sure we stop the exploitation of people coming, being ferried across the Channel.”

The Home Office has refused to confirm the nationalities of those on board but only Rwandans are exempt from the policy, suggesting that those fleeing conflict – such as in Afghanistan and Ukraine – could be considered for removal if they are deemed to have arrived in the UK illegally under new immigration rules.

The Daily Express understands nine Afghans are among those due to be sent to Rwanda on the first flight next week.

Afghans are currently the largest national group of asylum seekers arriving on small boats, with more than 1,000 coming to the UK between January and March.

Care4Calais – one of a number of organisations taking the Government to court over the plan – said it is also aware of around 35 Sudanese, 18 Syrians, 14 Iranians, 11 Egyptians as well as Iraqi, Pakistani, Albanian, Algerian, Chadian, Eritrean, Turkish and Vietnamese people who have been told they could be put on the inaugural flight.

Figures published by the Home Office showed people fleeing Afghanistan made up almost a quarter of the migrants crossing the Channel in the first three months of the year.

This was the most out of any nationality recorded, followed by 16 percent who were Iranian and 15 percent Iraqi.

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