Talks with airlines to take migrants to Rwanda have not started, James Cleverly admits

22 December 2023, 08:25 | Updated: 22 December 2023, 10:36

LBC's Political Editor Natasha Clark speaks to James CleverlyN

By Natasha Clark and Kieran Kelly

The Government has not started talks with any airlines to take asylum seekers on flights to Rwanda, James Cleverly has admitted to LBC.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

Speaking the week after the government survived a crunch vote on its emergency Rwanda legislation, the Home Secretary told LBC that the "robust" bill is in "very good shape already".

But when asked if the government had found any airline that will actually fly asylum seekers to Rwanda, Mr Cleverly admitted that one had not been found.

"That kind of contractual negotiation will form part of it, separate to the bill of course, we will be talking with air carriers," Mr Cleverly told LBC.

The home secretary went on: "We are not at the stage yet where we can have those commercial negotiations."

Both the home secretary and the prime minister Rishi Sunak have repeatedly refused to say when migrant flights to Rwanda will get off the ground.

While both have expressed a desire to get the flights by the Spring, Mr Cleverly told LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast last week that he could not guarantee them starting before the next general election.

Read More: Rwandan criminals could come to the UK as part of Rishi's migrant deal, James Cleverly admits

Read More: James Cleverly says he can't remember calling Rwanda deportation policy 'batshit'

Meanwhile, Mr Sunak - as he also reiterated there was no firm date to 'stop the boats' - refused to tell a Parliamentary committee whether airlines would be willing to sign up to the scheme.

"I want to get flights off as soon as practicably possible," Sunak told MPs on the Commons liaison committee.

When told by Diana Johnson, the chairwoman of the home affairs committee, that plans were needed in order to do that, the PM conceded: "We do."

Mr Sunak said: "I’m confident that we will have the ability to send people to Rwanda. You wouldn’t expect me to comment on commercial conversations."

James Cleverly recently visited Rwanda as the Govt introduced emergency legislation to get migrant flights off the ground
James Cleverly recently visited Rwanda as the Govt introduced emergency legislation to get migrant flights off the ground. Picture: Getty

While the government survived a crunch vote on its emergency Rwanda legislation last week, there are further opportunities for it to be blocked by MPs and the House of Lords.

But speaking to LBC, Mr Cleverly warned MPs that he, along with the government, would do everything they can to get it through.

"I want it to be a success, and I will fight tooth and nail against any parliamentarians who try to kill it off," he told LBC.

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

Mark Rowley says the number of officers in the Met is falling

Met Police officer numbers drop as force calls for 'thousands of applicants' in new recruitment drive

Joe Biden has tested positive for Covid

Joe Biden cancels campaign event after testing positive for Covid-19

Starmer is set to push for a migrant return deal with the EU

Starmer to push for new migrant return deal with EU, as he seeks to 'renew UK's relationship with Europe' at summit

Keir Starmer faces a challenge over the two-child benefit cap

Keir Starmer seeks to stave off Labour backbench revolt over benefit cap with child poverty taskforce

A man has been shot dead in Kirkby

Man shot dead on residential street close to Liverpool training ground, as police launch murder investigation

Joe Biden has hinted he could step aside from the race against Donald Trump for the White House

Biden hints he could quit election race against Trump on medical advice, as top Democrat calls for him to stand down

The scandal surrounding Strictly Come Dancing has deepened after footage showing former professional dancer James Jordan telling his celebrity partner Georgina Bouzova "kill you" surfaced on social media.

Strictly scandal deepens as footage showing ex-pro telling partner he will 'kill her' emerges

Liz Truss

Reference to Truss' 'disaster' mini-budget removed from King's Speech files after ex-PM complains to civil service chief

Police found "over a dozen" firearms at Crooks' home

Thomas Crooks' father 'called police on the day of the Trump rally shooting'

Cameron Jones left his dying fiancee Demi by the side of the road

Moment driver flees from car wreckage leaving fiancee to die - before he later blames her for horror crash

Kim Johnson wants the two-child benefit cap to be scrapped

Labour MP calls for two-child benefit cap to be axed as she plans King's Speech amendment after policy retained

Adele has played 90 shows in Las Vegas

Adele announces she is stepping back from music after growing to ‘absolutely hate’ fame

Two British travel agents are believed to be the pair found shot dead and their bodies burned in a car in Malmo.

British travel agents thought to be pair shot dead and burned in car in Malmo

Two dead and two children in hospital after house fire in Blackpool

Two die and two children rushed to hospital after house fire in Blackpool

Locals have been warned to avoid the area

Locals warned 'do not open your doors' as huge fire erupts on Birmingham industrial estate

Joe Biden his facing pressure to step down ahead of November's election.

Joe Biden wrongly claims he will cap rent rises at $55 in latest gaffe