Jeremy Hunt defends cost of Rwanda boat plan as ministers launch new deterrance campaign | Politics | News

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has defended the cost of the Government’s stalled Rwanda deportation scheme while admitting it had been “very challenging” to implement.

He insisted the “overall picture” has improved despite figures showing a hike in migrant crossings in the English Channel.

Asked why the Government was “throwing good money after bad” over its scheme to relocate asylum seekers to the African nation, the Chancellor said: “We’re not.”

He added: “If I may say very gently, what you haven’t shown is the overall picture, which is that crossings are down this year by more than a third compared to last year.”

The Chancellor admitted the Government had found it “very challenging” to implement the scheme.

Mr Hunt said: “We’ve had to pass several new laws, the courts have not agreed with some of the things we’ve done so we had to go back to Parliament and pass more laws.

“We’re in the process of doing that but we have a plan.

“And when we get those flights off to Rwanda, that will send a very strong signal to these people smugglers and the people that they’re taking, that if you come to the UK illegally, then there is a very good chance that you will be sent straight back abroad to Rwanda.”

The plan to send some asylum seekers on a one-way ticket to Kigali was dealt another blow when peers inflicted a further series of defeats to the draft law on Wednesday.

MPs had rejected a raft of changes made to the draft legislation by the Lords earlier this week and ministers urged the unelected chamber to help get it on to the statute books, but peers have again pressed their demands for revisions.

Meanwhile Home Secretary James Cleverly will unleash a social media campaign in Vietnam to directly target people considering making dangerous and illegal journeys to the UK.

Ministers will use Facebook and YouTube adverts in the Asian nation, following successful social media activity in Albania last year which contributed to a 90% reduction in small boat arrivals from the country.

Mr Cleverly said: “This is a powerful campaign which demonstrates first-hand that life for people arriving here illegally is a far cry from the lies they have been sold by the gangs on the other side of the Channel.

“Last year, similar work contributed to a 90% reduction in small boat arrivals from Albania, and overall numbers are down by a third, but there is more to do.

“Expanding our campaign to Vietnam, another key partner in our work to tackle illegal migration, will help us to save more lives and dent the business model of the criminals who profit from this vile trade.”

The campaign warns prospective migrants of the reality of living in the UK illegally with no right to be in the UK and no access to public services or funding.

It includes testimonies from Home Office immigration enforcement and Border Force officers, who encounter illegal migrants that have been sold into modern slavery or illegal working by their smugglers.

Meanwhile Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has defended the cost of the Government’s stalled Rwanda deportation scheme, as he admitted it had been “very challenging” to implement.

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