Minister ‘confident’ Rwanda flights will start before election amid Cleverly visit

Immigration minister Robert Jenrick has this morning insisted he is “confident” that flights will be taking off to Rwanda before the next election. 

It comes after home secretary James Cleverly has arrived in Rwanda to sign a new treaty with the country. He will meet his counterpart, Vincent Biruta, to sign the treaty and discuss key next steps, the Home Office has said.

The government is attempting to make its flagship plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda legally sound in the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling against the policy.

Last month, the court’s five judges unanimously backed the judgement delivered by the Court of Appeal which declared the policy was unlawful because of the risk that asylum seekers sent to Rwanda would be returned to their own country and face persecution in breach of their human rights.

Emergency domestic legislation is also planned, which will declare that Rwanda is a safe country for asylum seekers arriving in the UK to be sent there to have their claims processed. 

Ahead of his arrival in Kigali, Cleverly said: “We are clear that Rwanda is a safe country, and we are working at pace to move forward with this partnership to stop the boats and save lives.”

Although the Supreme Court judged Rwanda unsafe, the home secretary said the court had also recognised “that changes may be delivered in future to address the conclusions they reached”.

He added: “Rwanda cares deeply about the rights of refugees, and I look forward to meeting with counterparts to sign this agreement and further discuss how we work together tackle the global challenge of illegal migration.”

Asked this morning whether he was “confident that planes will take off to Rwanda before the next election?”, immigration minister Robert Jenrick told Sky News:

“I am — but we will need to do a few things to achieve that. The treaty that the home secretary is going to sign later today will create a fundamentally different and better arrangement with the government of Rwanda that answers the concerns of the Supreme Court”

“And then we’re going to bring forward a piece of emergency legislation that will embed that in British UK law and go further to close some of the loopholes that bring spurious claims and prevent migrants being put on those planes.

“Together, I think this will enable us to get that plan running. This is a plan that is absolutely critical to getting numbers down.” is the UK’s leading digital-only political website, providing comprehensive coverage of UK politics. Subscribe to our daily newsletter here.