With judges at Britain’s high court set to rule at 10.30am on Monday whether the UK’s controversial plan to send asylum-seekers to Rwanda is legal, shadow secretary of state for work and pensions Jonathan Ashworth has criticised the plan, saying: “Clearly it’s not working as a deterrent as the Government promised us”.
Speaking to GB News before the judgement on Monday morning, Mr Ashworth said: “It’s not for me to prejudge the judges’ judgement, but clearly it’s not working as a deterrent as the government promised us, the government has made, I think, umpteen promises on this issue and said they will sort it out, they clearly failed on that front, we’ve got to really crack down on these criminal gangs who are ferrying people across the channel. They are absolutely diabolical”.
It comes as several asylum-seekers, aid groups and a border officials’ union are trying to stop the Conservative government acting on a deportation agreement with Rwanda, which was agreed by then-home secretary Priti Patel in April.
Under the “Rwanda scheme”, the UK would send those who arrive in the U.K. as stowaways or in boats to the East African country, where their asylum claims would be processed. Applicants granted asylum would stay in Rwanda rather than return to the U.K.
The government says the scheme will deter people from crossing the English Channel in small boats.
More than 44,000 people have arrived in Britain by that route this year, and several have died, including four last week when a boat capsized.
The first deportation flight – due to take off on June 14 – was grounded amid a series of challenges against individual removals and the policy as a whole.
Home secretary Suella Braverman, who has called the Channel crossings an “invasion of our southern coast”, told The Times it would be “unforgivable” if the government did not stop the journeys.
“The Brexit vote was in part about migration, control over our borders and repatriating sovereignty on the question of who comes into our country,” she said. “This is an egregious example of how we haven’t taken back control.”
When pressed over what Labour’s response to the channel crossings would be, Mr Ashworth continued: “We would fund a proper crime agency to do the detailed work to crackdown on those criminal gangs, but it’s not for me to prejudge a judge’s judgement.
“There’s a massive backlog and that’s the reason why there are so many people smugglers saying go to the United Kingdom, they advertise it on things like Tik Tok, because they know that there is this massive, massive backlog because the conservatives have utterly failed to get on top of that problem”.
He continued: “Keir Starmer is a pragmatist, and we are in tune with the pragmatic instincts of the British people”.
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