Senior Tories warn the flagship policy to deter people crossing the Channel in small boats must not be derailed again.
A landmark Supreme Court verdict on the legality of the scheme is now not expected until at least December, and Conservatives are demanding radical action to ensure the flights go ahead even if judges rule against the Government.
They want Britain to work with other European countries battling people smuggling to secure changes to the European Convention on Human Rights so states are not blocked from protecting their borders. Rishi Sunak will also come under intense pressure to change UK law so Britain can press ahead with the Rwanda programme.
Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick, writing in the Sunday Express, insists the Rwanda scheme will “remove the incentive for illegal migrants to leave the safety of France in the first place”.
“Labour would do away with all that and fling open our doors to hundreds of thousands of illegal migrants from the safety of Europe.”
Tory MPs insist flights must start before the election expected in 2024. Former Brexit minister David Jones said illegal migration is the “single biggest national issue that is raised” by his constituents.
Demanding that planes take off as soon as the Supreme Court gives the thumbs-up, he said: “The flights should go on the very same day. It’s extremely important.
“If people know they will not be allowed to remain in the UK but will be taken somewhere else for their application to be processed that will certainly put a lot of people off.”
READ MORE: We feel let down by all politicians over immigration writes Mathew Goodwin
Alp Mehmet, of Migration Watch, said the Home Office “must have the planes ready for boarding and take-off to discourage migrants from crossing the Channel illegally”.
Exclusive polling by WeThink shows public support for housing asylum seekers is wearing thin.
Just 31 per cent said the UK should provide housing for adult asylum seekers with nearly half (47 per cent) saying it should not.
When asked who should be blamed for the small boats crisis, 37 per cent named people-trafficking gangs, 26 per cent the Government, seven per cent human rights lawyers – and 29 per cent all of the above.
One in five people said immigration will be the most important issue at the next election.
Mr Jones, a lawyer, wants the UK to push for the overhaul of the European Convention on Human Rights. He said: “The Convention is 70 years old. It was agreed at a time long before there was large-scale international people smuggling.
“The problem is the Convention is preventing not only the UK but other countries – most especially Italy – from protecting their own borders. I would think the Government would be able to make common cause with a lot of important European countries who have got similar issues.”
Austria’s Chancellor has raised the possibility of illegal immigrants being sent to Rwanda, and Denmark has conducted negotiations with the African state about transferring asylum seekers. Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni this month met with Mr Sunak and said the two countries wanted to “intensify our bilateral co-operation” on immigration.
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The mayor of the Italian island of Lampedusa last week said around 7,000 people had arrived on its shores in 48 hours, and the community had “now reached a point of no return and the island is in crisis”.
Conservative MP Marco Longhi said: “Britain is not the only country battling to secure its borders and defeat the people smugglers.
“We should assemble a coalition of allies and secure reforms to the Council of Europe, the European Court of Human Rights and the Convention so that sovereign nations are not prevented from taking common sense action to protect borders.”
The Rwanda scheme has been hit with repeated setbacks. In June last year the first flight was cancelled following an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.
There were hopes this March flights could go ahead in September but in June the Court of Appeal ruled the scheme was “unlawful”.
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