Home Secretary James Cleverly hails ‘robust’ new Rwanda migrant treaty designed to get planes in the air next spring

5 December 2023, 14:11 | Updated: 5 December 2023, 15:58

James Cleverly arrives in Rwanda ahead of the signing of the new treaty
James Cleverly arrives in Rwanda ahead of the signing of the new treaty. Picture: Alamy

By Asher McShane

The Home Secretary has described a new migration treaty with Rwanda as far more ‘robust’ than previous proposals.

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James Cleverly said during a press conference held in the African nation that “we feel very strongly that this treaty addresses all the issues raised by their lordships in the Supreme Court.

“We are absolutely committed to breaking the business model of these people-smuggling gangs, to create a safe and welcoming environment with our friends and partners in Rwanda.”

He said no extra money was linked to the signing of the new document.

"The funding of the international agreement reflects the costs that may be imposed on Rwanda through the changes that this partnership has created in their systems, in their legal systems and institutions," he said.

The Home Office says the new deal includes assurances from the Rwandan authorities that they will not remove anyone who arrives from Britain.

Mr Cleverly touched down in Kigali as part of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's mission to make the deal to send migrants to Rwanda legally watertight following a Supreme Court ruling.

In the wake of the judgement on November 15, the government insisted it had been working on contingency measures and promised a treaty with Rwanda within days, along with emergency legislation in parliament.

Home Secretary James Cleverly arrives at Kigali International Airport in Rwanda, where he will sign a new treaty with Rwanda,
Home Secretary James Cleverly arrives at Kigali International Airport in Rwanda, where he will sign a new treaty with Rwanda,. Picture: Alamy

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Mr Cleverly said Rwanda "cares deeply about the rights of refugees" and he looks forward to meeting counterparts and signing the deal.

The home secretary said: "We are clear that Rwanda is a safe country, and we are working at pace to move forward with this partnership to stop the boats and save lives.

"The Supreme Court recognised that changes may be delivered in future to address the conclusions they reached - and that is what we have set out to do together, with this new, internationally recognised treaty agreement.

"Rwanda cares deeply about the rights of refugees, and I look forward to meeting with counterparts to sign this agreement and further discuss how we work together to tackle the global challenge of illegal migration."

'This is Groundhog Day': Yvette Cooper on James Cleverly's Rwanda visit

There has been speculation Rwanda is pushing to get more money on top of the £140m already committed to the scheme.

The Sunday Times reported Kigali will be given a £15m top-up payment to agree fresh terms on its agreement with the UK.

Earlier, Immigration minister Robert Jenrick told LBC that success would look like planes carrying asylum seekers taking off from the UK to the African nation.

Nick challenges Immigration Minister on migration targets

Mr Jenrick said: "Success, ultimately, is getting flights off to Rwanda and further reducing the number of small boat crossings.

"This step is that we hope to sign a treaty with the government of Rwanda that further strengthens our relationship with them, puts more safeguards in place for the scheme that we've designed and, specifically and in a detailed way, answers all of the concerns that were set out by the Supreme Court in their judgment the other day, so that when Parliament comes to vote on our new emergency legislation in the weeks and months ahead it can do so in the knowledge that the arrangement with Rwanda is fundamentally different and stronger, and that the legitimate concerns the Supreme Court had have been put to bed."

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