Sunak 'overruled plans to close dozens more migrant hotels' due to 'lack of confidence in Rwanda plan'

9 January 2024, 06:55 | Updated: 9 January 2024, 06:57

Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak talks to an audience during a 'PM Connect' event in Accrington
Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak talks to an audience during a 'PM Connect' event in Accrington. Picture: Getty
Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

Rishi Sunak overruled plans to close dozens more migrant hotels due to a "low expectation" of migrant flights to Rwanda actually taking off.

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The Home Office had drawn up plans to close 100 hotels by January, but the prime minister 'ordered the target to be halved'.

Mr Sunak's intervention has left taxpayers paying £1.5 million for 10,000 empty beds, The Times reports.

The prime minister intervened due to fears the government would have to reopen the hotels if migrant crossing increase again in the summer.

Rishi Sunak
Rishi Sunak. Picture: Getty

Meanwhile, a Home Office insider said the move "exposed" the prime minister's "lack of faith" in the Rwanda policy getting off the ground.

“No 10 had a low expectation of Rwanda working so they wanted to maintain hotel space and held us back from closing more,” a source told the publication.

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But Downing Street has defended the move, insisting the Home Office did not have "robust enough" plans to guarantee 100 hotel closures.

A No 10 source said: "We don’t make promises we aren’t sure we can keep. Home Office were told to crack on and deliver as many closures as they could, 50 was the minimum to start with but the more the better.”

Sunak has vowed to 'stop the boats'
Sunak has vowed to 'stop the boats'. Picture: Getty

Mr Sunak's controversial Rwanda bill will return to Parliament next week to face a series of votes, with the government hoping to quell a rebellion from the right of the Tory party.

It comes after it emerged that Mr Sunak considered axing the controversial Rwanda asylum plan during his ill-fated leadership battle with Liz Truss.

The prime minister reportedly weighed up ditching the plan when he was running to become Tory leader in the summer of 2022.