Rwanda flight: government expects deportation despite appeal

An appeal against the move is expected to be heard tomorrow (Image: PA)

A government minister has insisted a first deportation flight bringing refugees to Rwanda will go ahead next week, despite desperate attempts to stop it.

Northern Ireland Minister Brandon Lewis said he was comfortable with the policy amid a row over its legality and Prince Charles’ apparent views on it.

When asked earlier today on Sky News’ Sophy Ridge if the government expects the flight to take off, he said: “Yes, we do.”

It comes after a Supreme Court ruling on Friday cleared the way for a flight to the east African country on Tuesday – although an appeal is due on Monday.

Mr Lewis said the initiative “makes it very clear to these vile people who run these modern slavery systems and these treacherous runs across the English Channel that this business model is not going to work.”

However, he added that it was not “appropriate” to comment on “rumoured” criticism of the Prince of Wales.

Charles is said to have been “beyond disappointment” with the policy and privately called it “appalling” amid widespread criticism from rights groups, lawyers and immigration experts.

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A Clarence House spokesman insisted that Charles “remain politically neutral”, adding that “political matters are decisions for the government”.

Mr Lewis said: “It’s not just private comments, it’s rumored private comments and I don’t think it’s appropriate to comment on what someone says they may have heard about without context.

“The reality is that this is a policy that will ensure modern slavery and these people smugglers know their criminal methods are being broken down and to say to people around the world: ‘If you’re a refugee, if you one are asylum seekers, if you are a legal migrant coming to this country we want to give you the support to help you be part of the UK economy, part of the UK way of life, what you want’ and that is right .

“We need to do this in a proper, legal and managed way and people who encourage you to travel illegally are wrong and we will break their business model.”

Meanwhile, a union questioning the government’s controversial policy said it hoped it could win an appeal to stop the plane from taking off.

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The head of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union – which represents more than 80% of Border Force personnel – said the “legitimacy of these proposals” needed to be examined.

Mark Serwotka also told Sophy Ridge that there was also a need to discuss “the morality and lack of humanity that the government is demonstrating” with her approach.

“We hope to win the appeals court tomorrow to stop the flight (on Tuesday),” he said.

“But of course the legality of these proposals will not be tested until the full court hearing in July.

“We are absolutely confident that, consistent with what UNHCR (UN Refugee Agency) said very vividly in court, we believe these proposals will be found unlawful in July.”

Up to 130 people have been told they could be removed.

The High Court heard on Friday that 31 people were due for the first flight – the Home Office plans to plan for more this year.

The first lawsuit against the policy was filed by lawyers on behalf of some asylum seekers and the PCS and groups Care4Calais and Detention Action, who are challenging the policy on behalf of all concerned.

Mr Justice Swift ruled against temporarily suspending the policy pending a full hearing next month, but gave plaintiffs permission to appeal his decision and suggested the Court of Appeal judges would hear the case on Monday.

He said Home Secretary Priti Patel would not ask officials to implement the policy before its legality had been tested in court if she had “respect not only for the desperate people who come to this country, but for the workers who use them.” employed”. .

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Justin Scacco

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