The government has been “forced” to deport migrants to Rwanda, a cabinet minister has said.
Oliver Dowden, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, said ministers wanted to “get cracking” with the controversial policy, which the government hopes to be underway by the summer.
The plan to forcibly remove migrants to Rwanda is currently grounded by the courts.
Some asylum seekers were told on Tuesday they could appeal against Home Office decisions to relocate them.
Speaking to Sky’s Sophy Ridge On Sunday programme, Dowden he was “confident our policy is lawful”.
“We will get cracking straight away with the Rwanda policy and use that as a tool in our armoury,” he said.
“I don’t relish any of this and I really wish we didn’t have to do it, and the government isn’t running to do this. The government is doing this because this is a major problem.”
He added: “We are being forced to do it.
“Unless we are willing as a government and a country to take tough action in relation to this the numbers will keep on growing and more peoples lives will be put at risk, including the lives of young children.”
No migrants have been relocated to Rwanda so far after the deal was signed last April by home secretary Suella Braverman’s predecessor Priti Patel.
It comes as Braverman expanded the agreement with Rwanda to incorporate all those illegally entering the UK as opposed to solely asylum seekers.
The addition to the deal is to be put in place to ensure illegal entrants would be detained and swiftly removed under the Illegal Migration Bill (IMB), irrespective of the claim they bring – including asylum, human rights, modern slavery or nothing at all.
Speaking in Rwanda’s capital Kigali, Braverman also said the IMB as it stands “does not take us out of the ECHR (European Convention of Human Rights)”, but added: “Nothing is off the table, ultimately.”
She said there are “serious issues with the balance that’s currently being struck” with the Strasbourg courts.
The IMB is due to bring forward the removal of migrants in a period of 28 days – and asked whether this would see those appealing against their relocation fly back to Britain, Braverman said: “The Bill dramatically, dramatically reduces the opportunity for people to make spurious claims.”
“There will be significantly limited opportunities to challenge that,” she added.
The visit came as 209 people were confirmed to have crossed the Channel in small boats on Friday, after five days of no reported crossings.
“I think that Rwanda is clearly ready. We saw that at the Riverside estate,” Braverman said. “We’re seeing that there’s real progress, which has been made in real tangible terms.”