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Patel backs Rwanda plan as more than 900 migrants cross Channel in four days

A group of people thought to be migrants are brought into Dungeness, Kent (Gareth Fuller/PA)
A group of people thought to be migrants are brought into Dungeness, Kent (Gareth Fuller/PA)

The Home Secretary has insisted work is taking place “right now” to put plans to send migrants to Rwanda into action after more than 900 crossed the Channel in four days.

Priti Patel said discussions with the East African nation’s government were taking place to progress the deportation policy.

Between Saturday and Tuesday, 907 people arrived in the UK after crossing the Channel.

Asked what she was doing now to curb Channel crossings while work on the Rwanda deal takes place, Ms Patel told the PA news agency: “These crossings are dangerous, put together by people smugglers who are just exploiting people that think that they can come to our country through these dangerous routes, and the point about the migration and economic development partnership that we have with Rwanda is actually about removing those who come to our country illegally and have no basis to be in our country.

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Home Secretary Priti Patel said the Government ‘will not tolerate people smugglers’ (Yui Mok/PA)

“That work is taking place right now. Our discussions with my counterparts in the government in Rwanda are taking place right now in terms of our removal plans. We are operationalising that work right now as the British public would expect, post the announcement of our plan last month.”

Speaking during a visit to a London fire station on Wednesday, Ms Patel added: “But I think there is a really important message here from our Government that we will simply not tolerate people smugglers, the criminality that takes place, and do not forget as well in the last fortnight Parliament has passed the Nationality and Borders Act, as it now is, which has focused predominantly on going after the people smugglers, making sure that our legal processes absolutely go after those smugglers, but actually enable us as a government and a country to remove those individuals with no legal basis to be in our country to a third country.”

Since the start of this year, 8,697 people have reached the UK after navigating busy shipping lanes from France in small boats, according to PA analysis of Government data.

This is now more than the number recorded throughout the whole of 2020 (8,466), official Home Office figures show.

There were 285 people who made the crossing in seven boats on Tuesday, and 19 in one boat on Monday, 436 in nine boats on Sunday and 167 in 13 boats on Saturday, according to Ministry of Defence (MoD) figures.

Meanwhile Conservative MP for Thirsk and Malton Kevin Hollinrake urged the Prime Minister to stop plans for an asylum processing centre in his constituency.

Raising the issue during Prime Minister’s Questions, Mr Hollinrake said the plan will “devastate the community” in Linton-on-Ouse, with residents not feeling “safe to leave their homes alone”.

Boris Johnson told the backbencher he heard his concerns “loud and clear” and there will be “further meetings” between him and the Home Office about what can be done.

It comes after North Yorkshire councillors said the Home Office intends to move 60 asylum seekers into a disused RAF base by the end of the month, despite opposition from locals.

Hambleton District Council, which is seeking a judicial review of the plans, said it has asked ministers to pause the proposal “immediately”.

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