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UK sets date for deportation of asylum seekers to Rwanda

UK sets date for deportation of asylum seekers to Rwanda

Britain plans to begin deporting asylum seekers to Rwanda on July 24, a government lawyer said on Monday, although the controversial plan depends on Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s Conservative Party winning the next election.

Deporting asylum seekers who arrived in the UK without permission to Rwanda is one of Sunac’s key policies, but legal and parliamentary sanctions have yet to materialise.

Sunak said the deportation flights would not take off before the July 4 election, but promised they would begin soon if he won. Labour, which is leading in opinion polls by around 20 points, has vowed to scrap the plan if it comes to power.

In documents filed at London’s High Court in response to a challenge by the charity Asylum Aid, government lawyers said the removals were “to take place by air to Rwanda on 23 July 2024 (and no earlier)”.

However, government lawyer Edward Brown later told the court that an “operational update” from the Home Office had actually said the first flight would take off on July 24.

The plan — first created in 2022 by one of Sunak’s predecessors, Boris Johnson — aims to stop asylum seekers making the dangerous canal crossing from France in small boats.

In November last year, the UK Supreme Court declared the policy illegal, prompting the East African country to sign a new agreement and enact new legislation to overturn the previous plan.

The number of asylum seekers crossing the English Channel has risen to a record this year, with more than 10,000 arriving in the country so far, after falling by a third by 2023.

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