A spokesman for the Prime Minister said it was the Government’s responsibility to “find a solution” to migrants crossing the Channel, which they claimed puts “lives at risk and only benefits criminal gangs”.
The policy has criticised as both inhumane and expensive, though ministers have claimed it will act as a deterrent for those making the perilous journey across the Channel.
The first flight containing asylum seekers is set to depart on Tuesday, with just seven people due to be on board after a number were removed following legal challenges.
Of those seven, lawyers representing three - including two from Iran - are seeking an order to prevent their removal to Rwanda.
ITV’s Paul Brand said it could cost as much as £100,000 to deport each asylum seeker.
Responding to criticism over the costs of the flight, a Downing Street spokesperson said: “The broader point is that you will know the cost of the current approach to the UK taxpayer is £1.5 billion every year already, we spend almost £5 million a day accommodating asylum seekers in hotels in this country, so this is about finding a long-term solution to a longstanding problem.”
“Doing nothing is not an option to this Government,” the spokesman added.
Meanwhile, the entire leadership of the Church of England, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, condemned the plans on Monday as an “immoral policy that shames Britain”.
“The shame is our own, because our Christian heritage should inspire us to treat asylum seekers with compassion, fairness and justice, as we have for centuries,” they said.
In response to the criticism, the PM’s spokesperson said: “Clearly it’s up to individuals to voice their views as they see fit.”
But he added that it was the Government’s responsibility to “try to find a solution to a problem which sees thousands of people make a dangerous crossing which puts lives at risk and only benefits criminal gangs”.
Asked whether they were concerned about the outcry over the plan and the legal challenges in the UK, Rwanda government spokeswoman Yolande Makolo told a press conference in Kigali on Tuesday that her country was involved in the policy “for the right reasons”.
“We have the experience. We want it to be a welcoming place for people in precarious conditions and we’re determined to make this work.”