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The Home Secretary has insisted the Government’s plan to send migrants to Rwanda sends a “clear signal” but it will “take time” to implement.
Priti Patel said she would use “every tool and every piece of legislation at our disposal” to remove migrants who arrive in the UK “illegally”.
Speaking during a visit to the Metropolitan Police specialist training centre in Gravesend, Kent, on Monday, she said there were “barriers and hurdles” to overcome but the Government was determined to “remove those with no legal basis of being in the UK, to Rwanda”.
Asked if it would be a long time before removals take place and whether she was confident the scheme would work, Ms Patel said: “When it comes to our migration and economic development partnership with Rwanda, it is clear that our objective as a Government is to remove those with no legal basis of being in the UK, to Rwanda. That is the basis of our agreement.
“I’ve said from day one, even when I signed the agreement and announced the partnership, that this will take time and it will take time for a range of reasons. We see various hurdles and barriers, mainly from specialist law firms that want to block the removal of individuals that have no right to be in our country. That is part of the techniques that they use.
“We see this day in day out, I see this with all the removals whether it’s foreign national offenders, people that have caused harm and criminal offences against British citizens – these firms specialise in preventing their removal.
“So yes, there will be barriers and yes, it will be hurdles, but… it is a determination of this Government, through the work that I have led including the Nationality and Borders Act… that Act of parliament will give us greater powers and greater means through the changes in legislation to remove those individuals who have no legal right to be in our country.
“And when it comes to the issue of small boats, that is exactly why we changed our laws, that is why we have this partnership with Rwanda, because it’s sending out a clear signal that those that come to our country illegally, they will have no right to remain in our country, and we will use every tool and every piece of legislation that we have at our disposal to make sure that we can remove them.”
Last week the Prime Minister came under fire for “attacks” on lawyers who are “simply doing their jobs” while the Government faces legal action over the plans.
Boris Johnson claimed “liberal lawyers” would attempt to scupper the deal as Downing Street said flights for the one-way trip to the east African nation may not take place for months, in the wake of criticism and legal challenges.
Mark Fenhalls QC, chairman of the Bar Council, said: “Attacks on men and women for simply doing their jobs are irresponsible and undermine the rule of law.”
Sir Jonathan Jones QC, a former head of the Government Legal Department and now a senior consultant at law firm Linklaters, said it was “not fair to blame the lawyers for bringing such challenges – they are just serving the best interests of their clients, as they are professionally bound to do”.