Suella Braverman promises Rwanda deportations 'by summer' as home secretary visits new-build housing for asylum seekers

18 March 2023, 16:29 | Updated: 18 March 2023, 23:01

Braverman appeared with Rwandan foreign minister Vincent Biruta
Braverman appeared with Rwandan foreign minister Vincent Biruta. Picture: Alamy

By Adam Solomons

Suella Braverman has vowed to send migrants to Rwanda by summer, claiming the central African country is 'clearly ready' to take in people seeking asylum in Britain.

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The home secretary told selected reporters in capital Kigali on Saturday evening: "We are working to make this happen as soon as possible.

"There is every possibility that we can move quickly if we get a good line of judgment in our favour.

"Rwanda is clearly ready."

She added that the government's new Illegal Migration Bill does not pull the UK out of the European Convention on Human Rights, but added: “Nothing is off the table, ultimately.”

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Braverman poses for pictures on the balcony of one home which may become housing for migrants
Braverman poses for pictures on the balcony of one home which may become housing for migrants. Picture: Alamy

Ms Braverman had insisted on Saturday morning that Rwanda can process 'many thousands' of migrants seeking asylum in Britain as she visited housing blocks in the country.

Suella Braverman will meet President Paul Kagame and interior minister Vincent Biruta to discuss the stalled migrant policy during a days-long visit to the central African country.

No migrants have been sent to Rwanda as the deal, signed last April, is stuck in legal limbo.

The Home Office said last July that Rwanda has initial capacity for 200 people, with plans to increase that once flights begin.

Braverman consults with officials overlooking construction of one building
Braverman consults with officials overlooking construction of one building. Picture: Alamy

Braverman said that figure is a "completely false narrative peddled by critics who want to scrap the deal".

She also declared the plan “will act as a powerful deterrent against dangerous and illegal journeys”, including small boat trips across the Channel.

Braverman was criticised for reportedly not inviting journalists from the BBC, the Guardian, the Independent or the Mirror on her excursion.

Reporters from GB News, the Daily Mail and the Telegraph are in attendance.

Braverman is shown inside a flat which could become migrant housing if the Rwanda policy gets through the courts
Braverman is shown inside a flat which could become migrant housing if the Rwanda policy gets through the courts. Picture: Alamy

Index on Censorship editor Martin Bright said: "[We believe] that access to government ministers, both domestically and as part of international visits, should not be treated as a reward for favourable coverage.”

Braverman on Saturday morning visited the Riverside Estate on the outskirts of capital Kigali.

The new housing will be sold to Rwandans and some kept aside for asylum seekers, developers say.

Braverman said as she was shown one flat: “These houses are really beautiful, great quality, really welcoming and I really like your interior designer.

“I need some advice for myself."

The government's controversial plan to send migrants to Rwanda is in limbo as asylum seekers were told they can appeal against a Home Office decision to relocate them.

Braverman speaks with Rwandan Minister for Information, Communication and Technology Claudette Irere
Braverman speaks with Rwandan Minister for Information, Communication and Technology Claudette Irere. Picture: Alamy

Iranian, Iraqi and Syrian nationals are among those seeking to overturn a High Court ruling in December which dismissed legal bids against the policy.

Labour's shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper urged Braverman to "come clean" about how realistic the Rwanda plan is.

She said: “Suella Braverman has still not come clean on the number of people Rwanda will really take in practice or the full cost to the British taxpayer.

“Already the Home Secretary has written Rwanda cheques for at least £140 million even though she has admitted the scheme is failing and the Home Office says it has a high risk of fraud.

“Instead of expensive PR stunts she should put that money into going after the smuggling gangs to stop dangerous boat crossings.”

David Lammy shares his initial reaction to Suella Bravermans plan

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