A plan to deport illegally arrived migrants to Rwanda by small boats will save the British taxpayer “billions of pounds in the long run”, Rishi Sunak has claimed.
The scheme to send migrants who arrive in the UK to have their details processed in Rwanda has failed to get off the ground after European judges intervened.
MPs are currently waiting for the Government to publish new legislation which could ‘disapply’ human rights laws to migrants who arrive illegally so they can be taken to Rwanda, together with a new treaty which ensures they cannot be sent from Rwanda to the country they had fled from.
Questioned about how much the Rwanda scheme will cost taxpayers – around £140million has already been spent – Sunak said that in the long term, the savings would be vast for ordinary Britons.
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Speaking en route to the Cop28 climate conference in the United Arab Emirates, he 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.
“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.”
Sunak continued: “We’re making progress. We have reduced the number of illegal crossings this year by a third.
The fact that they are down by a third is testament to all the hard work we have done on this issue and it shows that you can make progress and that is starting to save people money.
Sunak made clear again that he is willing to step in to stop the European Court of Human Rights from frustrating his plans to create a deterrent for the people who want to cross into the UK
“We’ve announced the first wave of hotels that will be closed and returned to community use, the use of alternative large sites, those are all very welcome developments but in order to get the job done we do need to stand up the Rwanda plan because I want a functioning deterrent.”
Sunak made clear again that he is willing to step in to stop the European Court of Human Rights from frustrating his plans to create a deterrent for the people who want to cross into the UK.
He said: “I want the next stage of this is for us to bring forward legislation to make it unequivocally clear, and Parliament will be able to confirm that, that Rwanda is safe for the purpose of operationalising this scheme and thereby making sure there are no more domestic blockers to the proper functioning of this scheme.
“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.
Rishi Sunak at Cop28
“Everyone’s patience is wearing thin… my patience is wearing thin, the country’s patience is wearing thin we have to end this merry-go-round…
“We are doing everything right … we will bring forward this legislation, it will be crystal clear and then I expect to get this scheme up and running.”
Sunak added that the success of the deal with Albania – which Downing St says cut crossings by up to a third – showed “that deterrents work”.
He added: “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.
“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.
“And if we can get that right, it will literally save us billions in the long run, so that is the right focus.”
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