BBC Presenter Accuses Ministers Of Being 'Fixated' With Rwanda Scheme Which Has 'Not Worked'

Almost 50,000 migrants have crossed the Channel since Rishi Sunak got into No.10.
Minister of State at the Home Office (Minister for Illegal Migration) Michael Tomlinson
Minister of State at the Home Office (Minister for Illegal Migration) Michael Tomlinson
Anadolu via Getty Images

A BBC Radio 5 Live presenter tore into a minister for being “fixated” with the Rwanda scheme on Tuesday.

Almost 50,000 asylum seekers have arrived in the UK in small boats across the Channel since Rishi Sunak got into Downing Street in 2022.

And yet the government’s plan to deport them to Rwanda – which was first announced in April 2022 – is still on hold, following a litany of legal challenges.

The Conservatives claim if they get another turn in No.10, flights to the African country will finally get off the ground.

Speaking to illegal migration minister Michael Tomlinson on Tuesday, BBC presenter Rachel Burden pointed out: “Home Office figures show we are at a record level to June this year already, just under 13,000.

“So, if we continue in this vein, we are looking at eye-watering numbers of people still making that journey, aren’t we?”

The minister suggested the Rwanda plan would be an effective deterrent once it was up and running, adding: “Rachel, I’m not shying away from your point. Fundamentally, the numbers are too high.”

Burden asked: “So what proportion of people arriving by small boats will be sent to Rwanda?”

She pointed out 52,000 asylum seekers could be eligible to be sent to the country.

Tomlinson dodged the question, and said: “If you can’t return them to their home country, they’ll be sent to Rwanda, if you can return them safely, then they will be returned.”

“Those are individuals who are already in this country, so shouldn’t you know the answer to that?” Burden replied.

He claimed 26,000 were returned last year, and claimed the “fundamental point” is the Rwanda plan was being copied by 15 EU countries.

Burden replied: “The point is, you may only send a handful of people – it could be dozens of people, I guess you might see that as a success – but it is a tiny part of the solution.

“And you are fixated with it.”

“No, I’m fixated on a deterrent,” he said.

“The deterrent effect hasn’t worked if record numbers are coming over this year,” the BBC host replied.

Tomlinson claimed people in northern France have already decided not to get on the boats because of the deterrent.

“The numbers don’t back that up,” Burden pointed out.

Sunak also told voters on Monday at an election grilling from The Sun that asylum seekers are already queuing up in Calais, in case Keir Starmer gets elected and drops the Rwanda scheme.


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