UK granted Rwanda additional £100 million in exchange for asylum agreement

Rishi Sunak
Rishi Sunak

The UK has given Rwanda an extra £100 million this year as part of their agreement to move asylum seekers there.

In a letter to MPs, the top official at the Home Office said that the money was sent to the African nation in April.

Sir Matthew Rycroft said that they are expecting to receive another payment of £50 million next year.

The news came a few hours after Rishi Sunak promised to keep working on the plan because his immigration minister quit.

The plan to send some asylum seekers to Rwanda to process their applications and possibly allow them to live there, was first announced by former Prime Minister Boris Johnson in April 2022. This was to stop people from crossing the English Channel in small boats.

‘Something to hide’

The process has been delayed multiple times because of legal issues, and no people seeking asylum have been sent from the UK yet.

So far, we knew that the government had spent at least £140 million on the policy. Sir Matthew had said no before when asked to share new numbers. He said the government decided to show the costs every year instead.

The numbers were shared in a letter to Dame Diana Johnson and Dame Meg Hiller, who are in charge of committees about home affairs and government spending.

Dame Meg told BBC Radio 4’s Today show that the total cost of the policy was only disclosed after many questions.

“It seems like the government is hiding something,” she said.

Sir Matthew said that the extra payments were not connected to the new agreement signed between the UK and Rwanda this week. This is part of the government’s effort to change the policy that was found illegal by the Supreme Court last month.

The minister in charge of legal immigration, Tom Pursglove, said the money was being used to make sure the Rwanda policy was strong and solid.

He said the plan is very important for saving money on housing migrants in UK hotels, which is currently costing £8 million a day for the government.

Robert Jenrick’s job as immigration minister was divided into two after he quit. Michael Tomlinson is in charge of dealing with people who come to a country without permission.

Labour called the news about the extra costs “amazing”, with Yvette Cooper, who is the shadow home secretary, saying: “How many more unlimited amounts of money will Rishi Sunak give out before the Tories tell the truth about this plan being a complete joke. ”

“It’s like spending £100 million for each trip the home secretary takes to Rwanda,” she said.

The Home Office said Rwanda can initially take 200 people a year, but they want to increase that number later on.

The department thinks it will cost £169,000 to send someone to a safe country, not specifically Rwanda, compared to £106,000 if they stay in the UK.

Legal issues or problems with the law

Earlier in the day, Mr. Sunak gave a speech and asked the members of the Conservative Party to support his idea.

The prime minister talked the day after immigration minister Robert Jenrick quit because he didn’t think the government’s new policy would work.

Mr Sunak said the new law from the government will stop the cycle of legal problems about sending some asylum seekers to Rwanda.

The bill makes judges treat Rwanda as a safe country and allows ministers to ignore parts of the Human Rights Act. However, it does not go as far as letting them get rid of the European Convention on Human Rights, as some on the right side of the Conservative Party have asked for.

The proposed law is being challenged by some members of the Conservative Party in Parliament next week.

On Thursday, Suella Braverman, who used to be in charge of keeping the country safe, said again that the plan would not work to prevent people from coming by boat. She wants the government to completely ignore international law.

The Times said that important government lawyers told No 10 that the new law might still let migrants argue against being sent to Rwanda.

Mr Pursglove told BBC Radio 4’s Today show that the new law would stop people from trying to delay the appeals process.

On Sky News, he said government officials will work with lawmakers to address any worries they have.


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