Boris Johnson ‘throwing red meat to racist voters’ with Rwanda plan

Boris Johnson defends Rwanda deportation policy

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The Prime Minister has defended the scheme, under which the first seven men are due to be flown to the east African country tonight, while the Home Office processes their applications. Mr Johnson vowed that the Government would “deliver” on its plan, which is supposed to deter asylum seekers from illegally entering the UK, such as by dangerously crossing the English Channel in small boats from France. However, the Church of England and human rights organisations have lambasted the scheme to send those seeking refuge in Britain thousands of miles away.

Some of the seven asylum seekers set to be deported on the first flight out of the UK have also launched legal action against the move.

Four legal challenges have been rejected, although the European Court of Human Rights is reported to have granted an injunction to one person to stop them being deported.

On Tuesday, Mr Johnson was accused of “throwing red meat to racist voters” with the Rwanda plan.

Karen Doyle, an organiser for the Movement for Justice, which opposes the deportation scheme, made the extraordinary claim during an interview on BBC News.

Asked about how she would deal with people smugglers, she said: “Our nearest neighbour, Ireland, has just introduced an amnesty for immigrants.

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“This is possible. The block is our Government that is determined to use immigrants for political gain. To throw red meat to racist voters.

“But the reality is that the majority of people in this country do not support this deal.”

The campaigner’s remarks were swiftly rebutted by newsreader Annita McVeigh, who said that “some people who support the removal of migrants would say that they are absolutely not racist”.

Ms Doyle also claimed Britain is obligated to help asylum seekers as it has historically contributed to the crises in some of the nations they are fleeing from.

She said: “The reality is that the number of people claiming asylum in the UK as a whole has been either stable or going down for years.

“The numbers question is a red herring. The reality is Britain has a responsibility and a duty to people from nations that often it contributed to the crisis in those countries.

“We have a responsibility to welcome people and to process people’s asylum claims.”

On Tuesday, Mr Johnson told Cabinet ministers that there was a “clear distinction” between immigrants entering the UK via safe, legal routes and arriving unofficially.

He also spoke of the “dangerous and illegal cross-Channel migration, which we intend to stop”.

Earlier this week, a Government spokesperson said: “Our world-leading Partnership with Rwanda will see those making dangerous, unnecessary and illegal journeys to the UK relocated there to have their claims considered and rebuild their lives.

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“There is no one single solution to the global migration crisis.

“But doing nothing is not an option and this partnership will help break the business model of criminal gangs and prevent loss of life.

“Rwanda is a fundamentally safe and secure country with a track record of supporting asylum seekers and we are confident the agreement is fully compliant with all national and international law.”

However, critics of the scheme have highlighted the human rights record of Rwanda.

Rwanda signed another agreement with Israel from 2014 to 2017 that was similar to its new partnership with the UK.

However, that scheme was deemed to have failed after most of the 4,000 detainees who were sent to the country left to head to Europe.

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