Britain to hand Rwanda £50m as soon as deportation bill becomes law, Home Office confirms

Rishi Sunak will give Rwanda £50m as soon as his flagship deportation bill becomes law, the Home Office has admitted.

With the bill expected to gain royal assent this week, the UK will send Kigali the latest payment of cash despite no migrants having been sent to the east African nation.

The policy is designed to let the government deport some asylum seekers to Rwanda, by deeming the country “safe” in British law, with the government expecting initial flights to take off in the coming months.

But just a handful of migrants are expected to be sent to Rwanda before the general election, expected this autumn.

Appearing before the House of Commons public accounts committee, Home Office permanent secretary Matthew Rycroft said Britain would hand Rwanda the £50m sum “as soon as we have royal assent”.

Rishi Sunak’s flagship Rwanda scheme will head back to the Lords on Tuesday (Stefan Rousseau/PA) (PA Wire)
Rishi Sunak’s flagship Rwanda scheme will head back to the Lords on Tuesday (Stefan Rousseau/PA) (PA Wire)

On Monday night MPs voted to overturn amendments made by the Lords to the Rwanda bill, which is at the heart of Mr Sunak’s promise to “stop the boats” crossing the channel.

The amendments overturned included an attempt by peers to ensure the Bill has "due regard" for domestic and international law and that Rwanda is only regarded as safe for as long as the provisions of the UK’s treaty with that country are in place.

Other amendments stripped from the bill included a bid to stop Afghan heroes who supported British troops from being deported to Rwanda.

The Independent has documented a number of cases of asylum seekers who supported the UK armed forces efforts in Afghanistan and who have since been threatened with removal to Rwanda after arriving in the UK via small boat.

Sunday was the busiest day of the year for Channel crossings as more than 500 migrants arrived in the UK.

The latest crossings took the provisional total for the year so far to 6,265 - 28 per cent higher than this time last year (4,899) and 7 per cent higher than the 5,828 recorded at this point in 2022.

A group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover (PA) (PA Wire)
A group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover (PA) (PA Wire)

The government’s spending watchdog the National Audit Office (NAO) has warned the Rwanda plan will cost taxpayers more than £500m if just 300 migrants are sent to the east African nation.

It would represent a total of £1.92m per person sent to Rwanda and account for just 1 per cent of the UK’s asylum seekers.

Mr Rycroft also confirmed to MPs that the government has drawn up a list of possible countries for schemes similar to the Rwanda plan, but only a “tiny number” were suitable.

“A lot have been assessed, and a tiny number that are into the next stage of work,” he said.

On Monday night, shadow immigration minister Stephen Kinnock said the Rwanda scheme is "doomed to fail".

He said: "The boats have kept coming, the backlog has kept growing, and the people smugglers are still laughing all the way to the bank. Two years of headline-chasing gimmicks, two years of pursuing a policy that is fundamentally unworkable, unaffordable and unlawful. Two years of flogging this dead horse.

"I am an inveterate optimist, so I truly believe that one day the benches opposite will come to understand that hard graft and common sense are always more effective than the sugar rush of a tabloid front page."

Immigration minister Michael Tomlinson said Britain has a “moral duty” to stop the boats.

He added: “We must bring an end to the dangerous, unnecessary, and illegal methods that are being deployed.

“We must protect our borders and, most importantly, save lives at sea. Our partnership with Rwanda is a key part of our strategy.

“The message is absolutely clear: if a person comes to the United Kingdom illegally, they will not be able to stay. They will be detained and swiftly returned to their home country or to a safe third country—Rwanda.”