Ian Hislop Mocks Government's 'Tin-Eared' Rwanda Policy On Question Time

“I’m amazed you can still say 'Rwanda' with a straight face," journalist tells immigration minister Robert Jenrick.

Ian Hislop has blasted the government’s “tin-eared” Rwanda policy as he criticised an asylum system that has “completely failed”.

On BBC Question Time on Thursday, the Private Eye editor mocked Robert Jenrick when the immigration minister defended the scheme.

The UK government’s plan – unveiled in April – involves “offshoring” the processing of asylum seekers thousands of miles away in Rwanda.

On the show, which this week came from Rugby, Jenrick cited the policy when quizzed on the issue of trafficking migrants on small boats across the Channel, which the government has promised to crack down on.

But the Have I Got New For You host seized on his words.

Hislop: “I’m amazed you can still say ‘Rwanda’ with a straight face. I mean that’s an extraordinary achievement.”

Jenrick: “Ian, why do you say that?”

Hislop: “Deporting people to the scene of a former holocaust still strikes me as a bit tin-eared.”

Jenrick: “In the high court before Christmas, (it) studied all of our plans, and studied the situation in Rwanda, and concluded, not only was our policy lawful, but Rwanda is a safe country.”

The 1994 mass killing in Rwanda left 800,000 dead.

Journalist and broadcaster Ruth Wishart, another panelist on the show, also criticised the language surrounding the policy, saying “peas get processed, people don’t get processed”.

No asylum seekers have so far been sent to Rwanda after the European Court of Human Rights blocked the first deportation flight last June.

However, the High Court ruled in December that the policy is legal.

The TV exchange came against the backdrop of the arrest of 15 people after violence erupted during a demonstration outside the Suites Hotel in Knowsley, which houses asylum seekers, on Friday night.

The incident prompted Hislop to take Jenrick to task again over immigration policy, arguing migrants are deliberately placed in deprived areas and their care is outsourced to badly-run companies.

He said: “To blame asylum seekers in hotels for being there, when the system has completely failed, seems to be encouraging people to go round there with hammers, smash up police cars and say it’s your fault you’re here.”

A Tory minister last week cast doubt on his own government’s Rwanda plan.

Andrew Mitchell said the controversial scheme would only have “marginal benefit” in stopping small boats from crossing the Channel.

Before he became a minister, Mitchell said the Rwanda scheme was “immoral”.


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