Rwanda plan is not the 'be all and end all' to stop illegal migration, says James Cleverly

25 November 2023, 09:15

The Home Secretary is "frustrated" at the focus on the Rwanda plan
The Home Secretary is "frustrated" at the focus on the Rwanda plan. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

The Rwanda plan is not the "be all and end all" to stop illegal migration, Home Secretary James Cleverly has said.

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Mr Cleverly said he had become “frustrated” with the focus on Rwanda when there are "multiple solutions" to stopping the boats.

While it is an “important” part of plans, there is also a broader strategy in place, he said.

It comes as Rishi Sunak has refused to rule out leaving the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) to force through the scheme.

He is considering using emergency legislation to opt out of the convention.

But Mr Cleverly has warned that doing so could impact “key co-operation” with international partners.

Read more: Suella Braverman says Rishi Sunak 'blocked' her 'on many occasions' from taking action on Rwanda

Read more: Sunak 'ready to work with EU countries to overhaul ECHR' so he can send migrants to Rwanda

Matthew Wright questions the governments 'wrong focus' on small boats

"My frustration is that we have allowed the narrative to be created that this was the be all and end all,” he told The Times.

"The mission is to stop the boats. That’s the promise to the British people. Never lose sight of the mission.

"There are multiple methods. Don’t fixate on the methods. Focus on the mission."

Addressing leaving the ECHR he said: "What some people, I fear, do is jump to their preferred solution and hang on to that really, really tightly and say this cannot be the right answer unless you do a particular thing.

"I do not want to do anything that might undermine the key co-operation we have with countries [who] are very wedded to the ECHR for understandable reasons.

"Nothing is cost free. Everything needs to be considered, the advantages and disadvantages."

Shelagh Fogarty brands annual salary immigration proposal as 'exploitative'

Mr Sunak is facing mounting pressure from within his own party to cut migration after official figures showed new arrivals in the UK had soared.

ONS figures released on Thursday showed that in the year to December 2022, 745,000 migrants arrived in the UK, an increase of 139,000 people.

The figures for the year to June 2023 hit 672,000 - up from 607,000 in the previous 12 months, but slightly down on the revised December record, caused by a drop in humanitarian arrivals, including from Ukraine and Hong Kong.

Axed Home Secretary Suella Braverman said the numbers were "unsustainable" and called on the government to "act now" over new arrivals.

She said the figures were "a slap in the face to the British public who have voted to control and reduce migration at every opportunity".

Ms Braverman previously suggested emergency legislation should block “all avenues of legal challenge”, as well as make amendments to the Rwanda agreement in line with criticisms highlighted by the Supreme Court.

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