Tories vow to deport all 90,000 migrants who arrived illegally since last year

Tory pledge to deport migrants
Manifesto pledges 'relentless, continual process of permanently removing illegal migrants to Rwanda'

The Conservatives have pledged to deport all 90,000 migrants who have arrived illegally since last year to Rwanda or their home country.

The party’s manifesto, unveiled Tuesday by Rishi Sunak, commits to bringing its Illegal Migration Act into force, giving ministers powers to detain and deport arrivals to a safe third country such as Rwanda or their home nation.

Party officials made clear there would be no changes to the Act despite claims by refugee charities and Labour that the Government would not be able to deliver the flights needed for such a large number of deportations.

The move came as the manifesto set out plans to abolish National Insurance for almost all self-employed people, axe stamp duty for first-time buyers on properties worth up to £425,000 and cut the cost of green levies on energy.

However, it stopped short of threatening to walk away from the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) despite pressure from Right-wing MPs to go further.

There are some 90,000 migrants covered by the Illegal Migration Act whose right to claim asylum will become “inadmissible” as soon as it takes effect and therefore subject to removal to Rwanda or their home country. The Refugee Council suggested it could reach 115,000 by the end of the year.

They have yet to be detained ready for deportation and, until now, have been in limbo, denied the right to claim asylum but unable to be removed before the flights. Instead, the Home Office has initially targeted more than 3,000 migrants who arrived before the Act came into force and have been detained.

The manifesto pledged a “relentless, continual process of permanently removing illegal migrants to Rwanda with a regular rhythm of flights every month, starting this July, until the boats are stopped.”

Asked if the Government would be able to deport all 90,000, officials said the Rwanda scheme was “uncapped” but refused to put a timescale on the removals.

It is the first time the Tories have publicly put a figure on deportations although leaked documents originally suggested only 30,000 would be removed over the five years of the agreement with Rwanda.

It was combined with a pledge to ensure all asylum claims were processed in six months and end the use of hotels. No timescale was put on meeting the target but officials noted 150 of the 400 had been closed and pledged to complete it “as quickly as possible.”

The manifesto also announced new health checks on legal migrants before they came to the UK so that any “likely to be a burden on the NHS” would have to pay a top-up on the standard £1,035 health surcharge or take out health insurance.

The manifesto made no explicit threat to leave the ECHR, stating only that “if we are forced to choose between our security and the jurisdiction of a foreign court, including the European Court of Human Rights, we will always choose our security”.

It has been seen as leaving the door open to quitting the ECHR if Strasbourg fails to reform its procedures. The manifesto said the party would work with other countries to “rewrite” asylum treaties to make them fit for the “challenges” of illegal migration.