Home Secretary making plans to deport migrants to Rwanda by summer
A Home Office source said that although Braverman acknowledged her plans were dependent on pending legal battles, they are “certainly working towards getting the flights off before the summer”.
No migrants have been relocated to the country so far after the deal was signed last April by Braverman’s predecessor Priti Patel.
It comes as the Home Secretary expanded the agreement with Rwanda to incorporate all those who arrived in the UK illegally as opposed to solely asylum seekers.
The legislation, which has been subject to widespread criticism, would see anyone who crosses the Channel in a small boat barred from ever re-entering the UK.
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The addition to the deal would mean people would be detained and removed irrespective of the claim they bring – including asylum, human rights or modern slavery.
Speaking in Rwanda’s capital Kigali on her first official visit as Home Secretary, Braverman said the Illegal Migration Bill (IMB) as it stands “does not take us out of the ECHR (European Convention of Human Rights)”, but added: “Nothing is off the table, ultimately.”
She said there are “serious issues with the balance that’s currently being struck” with the courts in Strasbourg.
The IMB is due to bring forward the removal of migrants in a period of 28 days – and asked whether this would see those appealing against their relocation fly back to Britain, Braverman said: “The Bill dramatically, dramatically reduces the opportunity for people to make spurious claims.”
“There will be significantly limited opportunities to challenge that,” she added.
On Saturday, she visited housing which is set to be used for migrants.
The cheapest houses on the Riverside Estate in Kigali would cost potential buyers £14,000 and are due to be offered to both asylum seekers and Rwandans.
Migrants arriving from the UK would be housed in hostels and hotels in the short term, before moving onto long-term housing arrangements.
The visit came as 209 people were confirmed to have crossed the Channel in small boats on Friday, after five days of no reported crossings.
“I think that Rwanda is clearly ready. We saw that at the Riverside estate,” Braverman said.
“We’re seeing that there’s real progress, which has been made in real tangible terms.”
Speaking about flights potentially taking off by the summer, Ms Braverman said: “In terms of flights, we are still in a court timetable. We’re waiting for the Court of Appeal’s substantive hearing later next month.
“There will then be time for judgment to be handed down by the Court of Appeal. Flights could take off.”
Rwanda government spokeswoman Yolande Makolo told reporters she did not “consider living in Rwanda as punishment”- adding that the African nation signed up to the agreement for “the right reasons”.
Asked whether she was in discussions with other nations to enter into further partnerships in order to implement the IMB, Ms Braverman said: “As you’ve heard, the capacity for Rwanda is in the region of thousands.
“We believe that that is sufficient to deal with the challenge that we’re facing in the UK, but we are always in constructive dialogue with many nations around the world.”