Exclusive

Ukrainian refugees will not be deported to Rwanda, Boris Johnson vows

12 May 2022, 08:08 | Updated: 12 May 2022, 10:05

Boris Johnson said Ukrainian refugees would not be sent to Rwanda
Boris Johnson said Ukrainian refugees would not be sent to Rwanda. Picture: LBC/Alamy

By Will Taylor

Ukrainian refugees fleeing the Russian invasion of their homeland will not get shipped off to Rwanda, Boris Johnson has insisted.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

The Prime Minister told LBC's Nick Ferrari that they would not be sent to the East African country despite a new agreement to send asylum seekers there.

The plan has worried migrant rights groups who say they could be put at risk by being sent there.

Other critics said it would not stop the dangerous and sometimes fatal small boat crossings in the Channel, which the agreement is designed to deter.

Speaking en route back from Finland, where he approved a new security detail with Helsinki and Sweden, Mr Johnson said the prospect of Ukrainian refugees being sent to Rwanda is "simply not going to happen".

Read more: Boris Johnson refuses to rule out windfall tax on oil giants amid soaring household bills

Read more: 'How do you economise Prime Minister?' Boris denies he's out of touch with household costs

"There's two totally different things, so what's happening with the Ukrainian schemes, there are two of them.

"They're both uncapped. They're both incredibly generous and they're intended to help people who have relatives in Ukraine that want to bring them over.

NICK FERRARI BORIS JOHNSON AIRPORT INTERVIEW

"So you have a quite a big Ukrainian community in the UK, perhaps 20,000 or 30,000 people, who want to bring relatives, distant relatives they can be, we don't mind, over to the UK. That’s scheme number one.

"Scheme number two is the Homes for Ukrainians scheme. And, you know, that, yes, you've got to be careful. You've got to make sure that you're getting two things right.

"First of all, you've got to make sure that you're getting the right families, the right homes for Ukrainians.

Read more: 'Only 300 migrants will be sent to Rwanda each year' despite 'thousands' pledge

"You've also got to make sure, in quite a difficult time for Ukraine, when we don't know the identities exactly of people leaving the theatre of war, you got to make sure that you're screening people as well.

"In spite of those difficulties, we've got 67,000, I think, the last numbers I saw coming in to stay with people in our country. I'm proud of that. I'm proud of the numbers that we're generating and don't forget this is on top of what the UK has already done with Afghans, with Syrians, with the Hong Kong Chinese.

"There is no country that has opened its hearts more to people fleeing war and persecution around the world since 2015. No one's done more."

Nick Ferrari asks Boris Johnson about the cost of living crisis

The Home Office confirmed the first group of people to be sent to Rwanda are being told they will be deported this week.

The Government expects the controversial deal to be challenged in the courts, having previously hit out at "activist" lawyers.

Mr Johnson will hope his newest agreement with foreign countries proves less contentious. He has approved a security deal with Finland and Sweden, two countries who look set to join Nato after decades of neutrality.

They appear ready to ditch their neutrality after Russia invaded Ukraine, fearful Vladimir Putin could set his sights on them in the future.

Asked by Nick if there can be a way for the international community to bury the hatchet with Russian president Vladimir Putin, whose military has been accused of war crimes in the bloody invasion of Ukraine, Mr Johnson said: "I think that repentance is going to be very difficult for Vladimir Putin now because… nothing is impossible, I suppose, but I just cannot see for the life of me how we can renormalise relations with Putin now.

Read more: First migrants to be told they're bound for Rwanda as Patel says plan sends 'clear signal'

"He has grossly violated human rights, international law. He's guilty of absolutely barbaric onslaught on a totally innocent country.

"And to renormalise would be to make the mistake that we made in 2014. Remember what happened after Donbas and after the invasion of Luhansk and Donetsk and of Crimea. The world basically said, this is appalling.

"We condemn it, we denounce it – and we did. And we put on sanctions.

"But at the same time, we kind of opened negotiations with him about a way forward and you remember the whole business of the Normandy process, the Minsk agreements. And Putin basically used that as a way of twisting the knife in Ukraine and he never really allowed stability to return to the east of Ukraine.

"And if the Ukrainians were to do any kind of deal with Putin now, the risk is that he would do exactly the same thing and they know it. So the short answer is no. No renormalisation and the UK is very clear about that."

Listen on Global Player to hear Mr Johnson's remarks about whether he is out of touch in the cost of living crisis and on Partygate.

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

Rishi Sunak Welcomes Rwandan President Paul Kagame To Downing Street

Sunak wants to deport migrants to Armenia, Costa Rica and Botswana in a bid to replicate Rwanda scheme

Brits are up in arms over the new daily charge

'They would be begging us to come back': Brits vow to ‘boycott Spain’ over new £97 daily rule

Indonesia Landslide

Landslides hit Indonesia’s Sulawesi island, killing at least 18 people

The English rock bank performed at Coachella on Sunday

‘You’re never seeing us again’: Blur’s lead singer blasts ‘disgraceful’ Coachella crowd and vows not to return again

Five of the six victims from the stabbing have been named.

‘Obvious’ Sydney attacker targeted women, Australian police say, as sixth victim named

The Israeli Iron Dome air defence system launches to intercept missiles fired from Iran

Israel hails ‘success’ in blocking Iran’s unprecedented attack

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has warned that the Middle East is 'on the brink'

'The Middle East is on the brink,' UN chief warns, as Israel approves plan of attack after huge Iranian onslaught

Elections 2024 Media Debates

News organisations urge Joe Biden and Donald Trump to agree to debates

Survivors of the attack are set to sue MI5

Hundreds of survivors of Manchester Arena bombing to sue MI5

The UK is set to experience some warm, dry weather

Two-week period when Brits to bask in warm, dry weather revealed, after cold period ahead

Lennix died after being hit by a car on Saturday

Parents pay tribute to 'happy go lucky' son, 8, killed in crash while riding scooter on quiet Wiltshire road

Damien Guerot stepped in in Sydney

Builder who wielded bollard to defend children from rampaging Sydney knifeman says attacker's 'eyes were empty'

The IDF said over 300 weapons were fired by Iran.

Israel approves plan of attack after foiling massive Iran onslaught, as world leaders call for 'stabilisation'

The G7 have condemned the Iran attack on Israel

G7 leaders condemn Iran's 'unprecedented' attack on Israel and say they 'stand ready to take further measures'

Russia Ukraine War

More civilians die in Ukraine amid warning US aid delays will hamper Kyiv forces

The minibus lying on its side

Seventeen rushed to hospital after bus carrying football fans overturns on motorway in multiple car smash