It is “sensible” for the Government to discuss striking Rwanda-style deportation deals with other countries, a Cabinet minister has said.
It comes after reports Home Secretary James Cleverly told Tory MPs more nations are willing to host asylum seekers from the UK if the Rwanda plan gets off the ground.
Mr Cleverly had stoked the ire of right-wing Tory MPs by suggesting the scheme was not the “be all and end all” of the Government’s immigration approach following the Supreme Court judgment that ruled it unlawful.
Rishi Sunak’s plan to save the policy involves the signing of a new treaty with the African nation and the introduction of emergency legislation allowing Parliament to deem the scheme safe, but this has been delayed.
Mr Cleverly on Tuesday told Conservative backbenchers angered by the hold-up that a successful Rwanda scheme could pave the way for similar deals with other countries, the Independent reported.
Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride expressed his support for negotiations with alternative nations.
He told Times Radio on Wednesday: “I can’t speculate on which countries the Home Secretary may have in mind.
“But if he is reaching out for alternatives to Rwanda, then that would probably – along with pursuing the Rwanda policy that we’re absolutely committed to doing – would probably be a sensible thing to do.”
Mr Stride added the Government remains “absolutely committed” to pursuing the Rwanda option through the new treaty and emergency legislation despite the “setback” of the Supreme Court verdict.
No 10 had said in the hours after the November 15 Supreme Court defeat that the treaty would be laid before Parliament in the “coming days” so deportation flights could take off “as soon as possible”.
But the Prime Minister is still considering how to ensure his Rwanda plan is legally watertight.
Mr Sunak has been urged, including by sacked home secretary Suella Braverman, to adopt tough legislation that includes “notwithstanding” clauses that can prevent judges from applying protections in the Human Rights Act and the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) to asylum cases.
But Government lawyers reportedly warned that instructing the courts to ignore the ECHR risks opening up more avenues for migrants to challenge the legality of deportation flights, on the basis that it would breach Britain’s convention obligations.
Mr Cleverly warned Tory right-wingers that seeking to override the ECHR could see the plan defeated in the House of Lords, according to the Independent.
The new Home Secretary has also faced calls for new measures to tackle net migration after official divs published last week showed it reached a record 745,000 last year.
The Government’s hope of sending asylum seekers who arrive in the UK on a one-way trip to Rwanda is a key plank of Mr Sunak’s pledge to “stop the boats”.