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Rwanda asylum scheme ‘will go ahead’ says Johnson amid questions over payments

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, speaking at a press conference during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting at Lemigo Hotel, said that the Rwandan asylum scheme would go ahead (Dan Kitwood/PA)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, speaking at a press conference during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting at Lemigo Hotel, said that the Rwandan asylum scheme would go ahead (Dan Kitwood/PA)

The Government’s controversial Rwanda asylum policy will go ahead, Boris Johnson insisted on Friday, amid questions about payments already made under the scheme.

The widely-criticised scheme is currently in legal limbo – the first flight was halted after an interim injunction from the European Court of Human Rights, pending a decision on the legality of the scheme in the UK courts.

It emerged on Thursday that Britain has made payments to Rwanda under the £120 million asylum scheme.

The Rwandan government said it had begun spending the cash to be ready in time for last week’s flight, which was cancelled at the last minute.

Mr Johnson, who was asked if the UK could claim the payments back from Rwanda if the scheme never becomes operational, insisted it would “go ahead”.

The Prime Minister said: “I’m confident that the migration aspect will work very well. I think it is notable that so far no UK court has found it to be unlawful and no international court has found it to be unlawful.

“I’m confident that we will be able to go ahead and develop a solution that I think whose time has come.

Migrant Crisis
The policy has proven highly controversial (Victoria Jones/PA)

“If you look at the problems that the world faces with illegal migration you can see that other countries are trying this.”

Downing Street this week conceded some payments had been made to Kigali, but would not set out how much or when under the “confidential” deal signed two months ago.

Mr Johnson, who has used the trip to Rwanda to stress the role the African country is playing in tackling human trafficking, once again took the opportunity to defend the scheme robustly from critics.

“You’ve got to find a way of breaking the mode of people smugglers, people traffickers are doing a profoundly evil and dangerous thing and you have to find a way of stopping that.

“I’m confident that it will produce value for money.”

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