'They Are Not Deterred': BBC Presenter Tells Tory Minister Rwanda Plan Is Not Working

John Kay grilled Michael Tomlinson on BBC Breakfast.
John Kay grilled Michael Tomlinson on BBC Breakfast. BBC

A Tory minister was left squirming this morning as he was shown evidence that the government’s Rwanda plan is not stopping asylum seekers from crossing the Channel.

Michael Tomlinson was told the migrants were “not being deterred” despite parliament finally passing a bill which could see them being deported to the east African country.

Rishi Sunak has insisted the Safety of Rwanda Bill, which is due to become law later today, will ultimately lead to him meeting his pledge to “stop the boats” making the perilous crossing from France to the UK.

But BBC Breakfast this morning broadcast live footage of asylum seekers trying to set off on the dangerous journey.

Tomlinson, who is the minister for illegal migration, was told by presenter John Kay: “It has been the case that people crossing the Channel for a year or so have known that they could be sent to Rwanda and yet what we’re seeing right now on our screens this morning are people still prepared to take that risk. They are not deterred.”

Asylum seekers preparing to cross the Channel this morning.
Asylum seekers preparing to cross the Channel this morning. BBC

The minister admitted: “You’re broader point is right. We haven’t stopped the boats, but the prime minister is determined to ensure that we do stop the boats and that’s why we were determined to get the bill through parliament.

“We need to see the planes get off the ground. Once we see the planes take off, then we will see the deterrent effect.”

Figures released by the Home Office yesterday showed that the numbers crossing the Channel so far this year have increased by 24% compared to the same period in 2023.

In a statement this morning, the prime minister said: “We introduced the Rwanda Bill to deter vulnerable migrants from making perilous crossings and break the business model of the criminal gangs who exploit them.

“The passing of this legislation will allow us to do that and make it very clear that if you come here illegally, you will not be able to stay.

“Our focus is to now get flights off the ground, and I am clear that nothing will stand in our way of doing that and saving lives.”