Tory Minister Casts Doubt On His Own Government's Rwanda Deportation Scheme

Andrew Mitchell said it would only have "marginal benefit" in stopping asylum seekers crossing the Channel in small boats.
Andrew Mitchell is sceptical about his own government's Rwanda scheme.
Andrew Mitchell is sceptical about his own government's Rwanda scheme.
James Manning via PA Wire/PA Images

A Tory minister has cast doubt on his own government’s plan to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda.

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

The veteran MP also told Channel Four’s Andrew Neil Show that the cost of the scheme is “a serious issue”.

His comments put him at odds with Rishi Sunak, who has made the policy a central plank of his pledge to stop the boats.

Mitchell, who is development minister in the Foreign Office, said: “Whether or not you support the Rwanda scheme, it’s not the answer. It might be part of an answer, but it’s not the answer.

“I’ve looked at the costs and I think that the cost is a serious issue.”

He added: “What I believe is that if the Rwanda scheme is to have any benefit, it will not be the whole of the effort that we have to make.

“It would be a marginal benefit. What we have to do is to stop these boats and there are a series of other mechanisms which we could use to do that.”

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

Speaking after then home secretary Priti Patel unveiled the policy in April last year, he said: “It is impractical, it is being condemned by churches and civil society, it is immoral and, above all for conservative advocates, it is incredibly expensive.”

No asylum seekers have so far being 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.


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