'You Can't Know It': BBC Presenter Clashes With Minister Over Whether Rwanda Will Stop The Boats

Chris Philp insisted the threat of deportation will act as a "deterrent".
Charlie Stayt grilled Chris Philp on BBC Breakfast.
Charlie Stayt grilled Chris Philp on BBC Breakfast.

A BBC presenter clashed with the policing minister this morning over whether the government’s Rwanda policy really will stop the small boats carrying asylum seekers across the English Channel.

Charlie Stayt said Chris Philp “can’t know” whether the threat of being deported to the east African country will deter migrants from trying to make the perilous journey.

The pair locked horns the morning after Rishi Sunak saw off a Tory rebellion to win a crunch Commons vote on his Safety of Rwanda Bill.

Philp said the government hoped to get the first deportation flights off the ground in the spring, and that the policy will act as a “deterrent” for anyone thinking of entering the UK illegally.

“We know that because Australia did something similar about 10 years ago as part of their Operation Sovereign Borders,” he said. “And when we got a returns agreement set up with Albania around about a year ago ... the number of Albanians crossing the Channel on small boats went down by 93%.”

But Stayt told him: “The reality is you can’t know it because it hasn’t happened yet. The only way you’ll know whether this will work is when it’s in place.”

A clearly-irritated Philp replied: “Wait a minute, I’ve given you two examples there. Australia’s Operation Sovereign Borders about 10 years ago and the Albanian returns agreement in the last 12 months - two examples of returns schemes where the deterrent effect has worked.”

The minister also refused to say when the prime minister will finally meet his pledge to “stop the boats” entirely.

He would only say: “I can’t give you a precise date as to when the boats will stop completely, but the plan is they will stop completely and we want that to happen as quickly as possible.”


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