Boris Johnson defends timing of shock Kyiv visit and ‘confident’ Rwanda flights will go ahead

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson, after arriving at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire, following a surprise visit to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv, Ukraine (Joe Giddens/PA) (PA Wire)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, after arriving at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire, following a surprise visit to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv, Ukraine (Joe Giddens/PA) (PA Wire)

Boris Johnson defended the timing of his shock visit to the Ukraine and insisted the UK will push ahead with its plans to fly illegal immigrants to Rwanda as he returned to the UK on Saturday.

The Prime Minister pulled out of a conference in Doncaster on Friday in order to visit Kyiv for a meeting with Volodymyr Zelensky - his second to the state.

Following the move, Tories from the so-called ‘red wall’ seats said his trip to Ukraine undermined the Government’s plans to ‘level up’ the north.

Despite anger from some MPs, Mr Johnson said it was important to visit Kyiv at such a “critical time” in the war.

“I think it is very important to go to Ukraine at a particularly critical time. The worry that we have is that a bit of Ukraine fatigue is starting to set in around the world.

“It is very important to show that we are with them for the long haul and we are giving them that strategic resilience that they in need,” he said at RAF Brize Norton.

He then added that it would be a disaster if Vladimir Putin won and said: “We’ve got to make it clear that we are supporting the Ukrainians in their ambitions to expel the Russians, expel Putin’s armies, from everything that he has obtained since February 24.”

Despite the European Court of Human Rights blocking a flight from the UK to Rwanda during the week, Mr Johnson said the Government is committed to following through with the policy.

“Every single court in this country said that there was no obstacle that they could see. No court in this country ruled the policy unlawful - which was very, very encouraging,” he said.

“There was this weird last-minute hiccup we had with Strasbourg. Let’s see where we get with that. I have read some interesting legal commentary about that.

“But we are very confident in the lawfulness of what we are doing and we are going to pursue the policy.”

Mr Johnson also defended plans to electronically tag some asylum seekers arriving in the UK.

The trial began on Wednesday and will last for 12 months, with the Prime Minister adding: “This is a very, very generous welcoming country. Quite right too.

“I am proud of it, but when people come here illegally, when they break the law, it is important that we make that distinction.

"That is what we are doing with our Rwanda policy. That is what we are doing with making sure that asylum seekers can't just vanish into the rest of the country."

Following the the intervention to stop the flight, Tories have called on the Government to pull out of the of European Convention on Human Rights, something British lawyers helped to create.

Home Secretary, Priti Patel also labelled the intervention as “absolutely scandalous” and “needs to be questioned”.

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