Boris Johnson slams 'liberal lawyers' for making Rwanda migration plan 'difficult'

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Jamie  Micklethwaite

By Jamie Micklethwaite

Published: 04/05/2022

- 18:03

Updated: 14/02/2023

- 11:34

Downing Street revealed this week that plans to send migrants to Rwanda would not begin for months

Boris Johnson has claimed “liberal lawyers” will attempt to put a spanner in the works of his plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda but promised “we will get it done”.

The Prime Minister’s comments come as Downing Street revealed on Tuesday that sending migrants to Rwanda may not take place for months.

Number 10 was unable to say when the first flights sending migrants on a one-way trip to the East African nation would take off, in the face of criticism and legal action against the plans.

Officials insisted they were not waiting for court challenges to be resolved before putting the policy into practice.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson on the tarmac of Southampton airport during a visit to the Eastleigh constituency, while on the local elections campaign trail. Picture date: Wednesday May 4, 2022.
Boris Johnson
Adrian Dennis

Speaking to reporters at Southampton Airport on Wednesday, Mr Johnson claimed “we always knew” that “liberal lawyers” would try to make the plan difficult.

However, he stressed the partnership between Rwanda and the UK is a “very, very sensible thing”.

The Prime Minister said: “It’s a great deal between two countries, each helping the other.

“Of course, there are going to be legal eagles, liberal lawyers, who will try to make this difficult to settle. We always knew this was going to happen, but it is a very, very sensible thing.

“If people are coming across the Channel illegally, and if they are, their lives are being put at risk by ruthless and unscrupulous gangsters, which is what is happening at the moment.”

He added: “You need a solution. And you need something that is going to say to those people, to those gangsters, ‘I’m sorry, but you can’t tell your customers, you can’t tell these poor people, that they’re just going to come to the UK, and they’re going to be lost in the system, because we’re going to find a way of making sure that they are going immediately to Rwanda’.

“I think that’s a humane, compassionate and sensible thing to do. I’m not going to pretend to you that is going to be without legal challenges. I think I said that when I announced it, but we will get it done.”

A group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover, Kent,
A group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover, Kent,
Gareth Fuller

Earlier this month, Home Secretary Priti Patel signed what she described as a “world-first” agreement with Rwanda, which will see the East African nation receive asylum seekers deemed by the UK to have arrived “illegally” and therefore inadmissible under new immigration rules.

The deal is already subject to legal challenges.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said the flights would take place at the “earliest opportunity” and the plan was a “fully legally secure approach that has been tested and thought through”, adding: “We have received pre-action correspondence from a number of legal firms, I can’t get into that more… but we still maintain our hope to have the first flights take place in a matter of months.”

Plans for an immigration processing centre in North Yorkshire, which are said to be pivotal to “delivering” the Government’s Rwanda deal, have also been criticised by Labour.

Asked by reporters about plans for the processing centre at a former RAF base near Linton-on-Ouse, party leader Sir Keir Starmer said: “The Government is in complete chaos on this.

“To call it a plan is too grand: they don’t know what they are doing, they haven’t thought it through and they haven’t even had the decency to consult local people about it, which tells you just about everything you need to know about the state of chaos they are in.”

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