Britain’s immigration policy is not about “saving refugee skins, it’s about saving the skin of this government,” a charity said after it was revealed Priti Patel had overruled officials’ concerns about the controversial plans to advance
As part of the plan to curb migrants crossing the English Channel in small boats, those who have entered the UK illegally since January 1 can be sent to Rwanda, where they can seek asylum in the African country. the Home Secretary and Prime Minister announced earlier this week.
But the policy has drawn criticism from opposition parties and charities, and the PA news agency has confirmed that the home secretary has taken the rare step of issuing a ministerial directive to allay officials’ concerns about whether the concept represents good value for money offers.
Some Conservative MPs have been vocal in supporting the plans, claiming the small boat issue matters to voters.
But Robina Qureshi, director of refugee homelessness charity, Positive Action in Housing, said: “This country’s refugee policy should be clear by now.
“It’s not about saving the skin of refugees, it’s about saving the skin of this government.
“If the fugitive is a white European, give (some of them) a safe way. If the refugee is brown or black, send them to Rwanda anyway.
“There is no legal route to Britain. That is the way to fascism.”
However, the Home Office and Ms Patel have defended the move.
Ms Patel said she expected other countries to follow Britain’s example, while the Home Office insisted its approach did not breach refugee deals.
Earlier, former child refugee and Labor peer Alf Dubs said ministers would face opposition in the Lords over the plan.
In an interview with The Guardian, Lord Dubs said the government was trying to “trample” international agreements.
He said: “I think it’s a way of getting rid of people that the government doesn’t want, by dropping them off in a distant African country and they have no chance of getting out there again.
“I think it’s a violation of the 1951 Geneva Convention on Refugees. You can’t just push them around like unwanted people.”
Ellie Reeves, Minister for Shadow Prisons, told Times Radio on Saturday: “The UNHCR (UN refugee agency) has given a really, really strong condemnation of the government’s proposals, as have many organisations, and it seems that the government’s own officials have raised concerns about the plans, which appear to have been utterly misguided.”
The Labor politician said: “The Government will pay £120million up front before asylum seekers are sent to Rwanda.
“Asylum seekers say it won’t stop them from crossing the English Channel.
“We’re in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis, so spending money on an unethical and unworkable system that doesn’t discourage people from coming to us doesn’t seem like the right way to go.”
She later added: “The whole system needs to be checked again. Instead of making sweeping statements – these announcements that are completely unworkable and incredibly expensive – the government needs to actually look at the system and put in place a system that actually works, increase law enforcement and crack down on criminal gangs.”
But Ms Patel said Denmark could be among those replicating the UK government’s ‘blueprint’.
“There is no question that the model we have presented is world class and world first, I am convinced of it, and it will be used as a blueprint for the future, there is no doubt about that,” said Ms. Patel.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if other countries also came straight to us on this background.”
The interior minister said Copenhagen was also in talks with Rwanda, adding that the Council of Europe had “also expressed an interest in principle in working with us”.
But Lord Dubs, who arrived in Britain on one of the Kindertransport trains from what was then Czechoslovakia in 1939, told The Guardian there would be legal challenges and opposition from his peers.
“If (Ms. Patel) says she’s going to get rid of the ‘left-wing lawyers’ allegations, well I think she might have something else up her sleeve. As far as I know, they’re going to have real trouble pulling this off anyway,” he said.