Ex-Tory home secretary warns Rwanda scheme is ‘brutal’ and ‘impractical’

The Government’s controversial scheme to send migrants on a one-way trip to Rwanda is “brutal” and “impractical”, a former Tory home secretary has warned.

Amber Rudd, who held the role from 2016 to 2018 when she resigned over the Windrush scandal, said the initiative should never have been introduced, adding that it was “extraordinary” for the current Home Secretary Suella Braverman to say she dreamed of seeing it through.

The ex-Tory MP, who briefly sat as an independent after her split with the party, suggested ministers should address the small boats crisis by improving Britain’s relations with France, as it is a “shared problem”.

Cabinet reshuffle
Home Secretary Suella Braverman said it was her ‘dream’ and ‘obsession’ to have a plane take off to Rwanda, after the flagship scheme was stalled amid legal challenges (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

“The Government has proposed this idea of sending people to Rwanda. I don’t believe in it. For (a) start, I think it is a brutal policy, which we should not have introduced anyway,” she told GB News.

“But it is also, putting that aside, impractical. I just don’t believe it will ever happen. So I think there’s a real problem with the growing numbers of people putting their lives in danger. In a way it’s a shared problem with the French.

“I hope that this new Government is going to address it by having a better relationship with the French. I mean, let’s face it, it can only improve.”

At the Conservative Party conference in October, Ms Braverman said it was her “dream” and “obsession” to have a plane take off for the east African nation, after the flagship scheme was stalled amid legal challenges.

Ms Rudd described these remarks as “extraordinary”, adding that she should wish for a “safer policy” – but acknowledged it would be “difficult politically” for the Tories to step back from an initiative they have “said is the answer”.

“She’s entitled to dream about having borders where you don’t have lots of people arriving across a dangerous passage like the channel, but not perhaps to put it quite in those terms that she has,” she said.

Ms Rudd also said she was “surprised” to see Ms Braverman resurrected in her role at the Home Office after she was forced out of Liz Truss’s cabinet over a breach of the ministerial code.

But she said it is right to “give her a chance and see how it goes”, stressing it is an “incredibly difficult job”.

“I think there are very few politicians who wake up in the morning and think, ‘you know what I really want to do, I want to be Home Secretary’, it’s not a job that people usually really want to do because it is incredibly hard,” she said.

“When I say hard, it’s not just difficult to get right, like we’ve been discussing on immigration, you’re also dealing with some of the worst of humanity, the things you have to try and see and help people with.

“So let’s give her a chance and see how it goes.”

Ms Rudd served as work and pensions secretary following her tenure in the Home Office but quit the cabinet and Conservative Party in September 2019 in protest at Boris Johnson’s handling of Brexit.