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The Rwanda migration plan remains “crucial” to stopping small boats crossings in the Channel, Rishi Sunak has insisted – but he dismissed the idea of ditching human rights laws to deliver it.

Conservative MPs have accused the Prime Minister of not doing enough to force the scheme through the courts after it was blocked over fears the rights of asylum seekers deported to Rwanda would be at risk.

And they responded with anger when James Cleverly, the new Home Secretary, said the policy was not “the be all and end all” of controlling illegal migration. 

But Mr Sunak insisted he was committed to ensuring that the UK can send migrants who arrive illegally to Rwanda as a deterrent to reduce the number of Channel crossings.

Speaking as he travelled to the COP 28 climate summit in Dubai, the Prime Minister said: “We are already, incredibly frustratingly for the British people and the taxpayer, spending billions to house illegal migrants in hotels, and that’s not right, I’ve talked about it repeatedly, we have got to end that.

“And we’re not going to end that unless we can have a successful deterrent that stops people from coming here, right? Because that in the long run is the billions that we need to save.”

He claimed the Government was “making progress” in light of statistics showing that crossings are down by roughly a third, but added: “In order to get the job done we do need to stand up the Rwanda plan because I want a functioning deterrent. 

“We’ve seen that deterrents work, we’ve seen it in Albania. Because we are now returning people back to Albania as a result of the new agreement that we have, as part of the diplomacy and statecraft that we’ve conducted over the past year, you’ve seen the numbers coming from Albania drop by 90 per cent, right? That tells you that deterrents work, so if you can have a functioning deterrent system, people will stop coming. And we need to now replicate that on a bigger scale, that’s why Rwanda’s crucial.”

Asked if Britain would have to withdraw from the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights in order to ensure the Rwanda policy is not stopped by the courts, the Prime Minister said: “I am completely confident everything that we are doing complies with our international obligations. I have been through this in great detail and I am confident of that fact.”

Mr Sunak added: “I will not let a foreign court stop us from getting a flight off, I am crystal clear we are in compliance with all those obligations and I know the Government and the party is united behind that position, but also the country is united on this. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, everyone’s patience is wearing thin.”

Ministers are set to table legislation as soon as next week which will define Rwanda in law as a “safe country” for deportations. They are also finalising a treaty with Rwanda’s government which will contain pledges to safeguard the rights of deportees. By Hugo Gye, I News

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