Plans to deter asylum seekers from entering the UK by threatening all of them with removal hinge on getting the Rwanda deportation plan up and running and expanded, i understands.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s controversial new laws would have a “quite powerful” deterrent effect on small boat crossings “quite quickly”, according to a Government source.
But i understands modelling for the former home secretary Priti Patel indicated thousands of asylum seekers would need to be sent to Rwanda for any deterrent to work.
Given the east African nation currently only has the capacity to house 200 asylum seekers and the UK has failed to secure a returns or burden-sharing agreement with France, it raises questions about how many many people will actually be deported under the new Illegal Migration Bill and the resultant deterrent effect.
However, responding to a question from i at a Downing Street press conference, the Prime Minister emphasised that the Rwanda scheme was “uncapped”, pushing back against a “misconception” that the African nation can only take 200 deportees.
He also claimed that the announcement of the deal with Kigali last spring stopped migrants in France from wanting to cross the Channel, and an agreement with Albania had resulted in a drop in the numbers coming to the UK from that country as deportations there have increased.
Mr Sunak said the Government would also ensure the UK “keeps signing returns” with other countries to ensure it could deport as many people as possible and avoid Channel asylum seekers remaining in the domestic system.
A Government source also insisted the new laws would have a deterrent effect immediately as once prospective asylum seekers begin seeing deportation flights taking off, they will think twice about crossing the Channel into Britain, citing similar outcomes from tough policies in Australia.
“It’s a confidence issue,” they said.
Discussing the December deal with Albania, designed to curb bogus asylum claims from people from the eastern European country, the Prime Minister said it had begun to have a deterrent effect.
“We’re actually already seeing that to some extent with the initiatives we put in place at the end of last year with Albania that are starting to now bear fruit,” he said on a visit to a Home Office joint control centre in Dover.
“Early signs, but you can start to see actually the numbers coming off, people realising there’s not much point in this, and we need that on a bigger scale.
“As you’ve seen on your screens, tragically, people are dying and we’ve got to do something different to stop this from happening and that’s what we’re doing, actually.”