Rwanda migrant flights 'on hold' until Tory leadership contest finishes

12 July 2022, 10:26 | Updated: 12 July 2022, 12:17

The Rwanda plan has been pushed back due to the Tory leadership contest.
The Rwanda plan has been pushed back due to the Tory leadership contest. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

Rwanda migrant flights are set to be paused until a new Prime Minister has been elected after the Tory leadership contest.

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The contest is set to come to an end at the beginning of September, pushing back the Government's controversial migrant plan even further.

There is "zero chance" of any migrants being sent before the next PM is installed, a Government source told The Times.

They claimed the move would cause too much controversy during the contest.

However, Downing Street and the Home Office are believed to have insisted that officials are continuing to work on plans for another flight to the African country.

Several candidates in the running - including Jeremy Hunt and Grant Shapps - have said they will keep the policy in place if they win, with Grant Shapps telling LBC on Monday that it had to be executed "properly".

Read more: Rwanda plan should be 'done properly', says Grant Shapps

Read more: Jeremy Hunt backs Rwanda-style plan and hits out at 'unfunded tax cuts' promised by rivals

The Government has faced several legal hurdles with the plan, with those expected to have been on the first flight last month pulled minutes before take off.

The European Court of Human Rights intervened with the deportation, granting injunctions for all those set to make the journey.

Appeals were considered by an out of hours judge on papers, overruling domestic court decisions.

Prior to Boris Johnson's downfall as PM, Home Secretary Priti Patel vowed to press on with preparations, leading up to a High Court judicial review of the policy.

The hearing, due to take place on July 19, was later delayed until September to let the applicants' legal teams prepare.

The move means more than 50 migrants in detention, awaiting imminent removal to Rwanda, may have to be released by the Home Office.

Clare Mosely, founder of Care4Calais, said:  "We are incredibly relieved to hear that those currently in detention must now be released.

"Some have been detained for more than six weeks and the strain on them and their families has been immense. 

"For the last two months we have witnessed the potential impact of the Rwanda plan. We have seen a hunger strike and suicide attempts in detention; we have talked to men who, having the resilience to survive unbelievable trials, have given up hope once in the UK; we have comforted their families torn apart by grief, despair and fear for their loved ones.

"We will be in court in September for the hearing to determine whether the Rwanda policy is in fact lawful. This will be an incredibly important moment for the future of refugee rights in the UK."

A Home Office spokesman said: "The Government will not be deterred as we plan for the next flight to Rwanda.

"We will keep individuals detained where appropriate and if released on bail we may seek to tag them if appropriate."