The minister responsible for refugees has refused to endorse the government’s controversial plan to send illegal immigrants to Rwanda.
Lord Harrington repeatedly dodged the question while being interviewed on Times radio.
The government was hit by a furious backlash when home secretary Priti Patel unveiled the Rwanda plan last month.
Under the policy, illegal immigrants will be flown one-way from the UK to the African country to start new lives there.
The move is designed to prevent asylum seekers trying to cross the Channel from France in dangerous boats.
Asked if he endorsed the plan, Harrington - who only returned to government in April to sort out the Ukrainian visa scheme - said: “Well, I’m a minister for Ukrainian refugees. And it’s my job to resettle them.
“They come in via legal routes. I mean, it is a legal route to come in as refugees from Ukraine. And this country has always been very good at legal routes.
“Illegal routes are different and the government has to do what it thinks right to try and stop these people smugglers from smuggling people in.”
Asked again if the Rwanda plan sent the right message about the UK’s attitude towards immigrants, he said: “Well, as I say, I’m the minister for Ukrainian refugees.
“I was given this project to do by the government, which I changed my life to do and that’s what I’m doing...I’m doing what I’ve been asked to do by the prime minister.”
It is not the first time Harrington has indicated his opposition to the Rwanda policy.
Asked about the plans before they were announced, he said: “If it’s happening in the Home Office, in the same corridor I’m in, they haven’t told me about it.
“I’m having difficulty enough getting them from Ukraine to our country. There’s no possibility of sending them to Rwanda.”
On Rwanda he said: