Asylum seekers who commit serious crimes in Rwanda could return to UK

Deported asylum seekers who are jailed for serious crimes in Rwanda will be returned to the UK after serving their sentence under government plans

Migrants sent from Britain to Rwanda could be returned here if they commit a serious crime, it has emerged.

A Downing Street spokesman said that in ‘hypothetical, exceptional circumstances’, a deported migrant who is later jailed for at least five years in Rwanda could end up coming back to the UK.

Any convicted of a crime would first have to serve their sentence in Rwanda.

At that stage, Rwandan authorities may decide to revoke their permission to remain in their country – leading them to be returned here.

Home Office sources said migrants may also be able to return here if they win an appeal – previously lodged in the British courts – against the original decision to remove them to Rwanda.

Home Secretary James Cleverly was in Rwanda yesterday to seal a new treaty with his counterpart Vincent Biruta

A plane that the British government previously used to try and fly migrants to Rwanda in 2022 

Channel migrants are brought ashore in Kent over the weekend

‘Anyone who commits a crime in Rwanda having been relocated, they will be expected to serve their sentence in Rwanda,’ the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said.

‘There are hypothetical circumstances, exceptional circumstances in which individuals could be returned to the UK.

‘As a first position, if you commit a crime in Rwanda, you’re serving your sentence in Rwanda.’

READ MORE – Rishi Sunak faces Tory meltdown on Rwanda plan: Ministers vow emergency legislation due tomorrow will be ‘watertight’ as centrist MPs threaten revolt

There would be a ‘high bar’ for sending someone back to the UK, the spokesman said.

But the official declined to give examples of circumstances in which someone could return to the UK because ‘that would perhaps only benefit those who would seek to subvert the system’.

The likelihood of a migrant being returned to the UK after committing a crime in Rwanda was described as ‘miniscule’ by one source last night.

Rishi Sunak was today accused by Sir Keir Starmer of giving Rwanda “hundreds of millions of pounds for nothing in return”.

The Labour leader told Rishi Sunak in the Commons: “He clearly hasn’t read it. Annexe A says on top of the £140 million he has already showered on Rwanda, when we send people there under this treaty we have to pay for their accommodation and their upkeep for five years. 

‘That is not all, this morning a Government minister admitted that anyone we send to Rwanda who commits a crime can be returned to us.”

Referring to claims that James Cleverly called the plan ‘bats**t’, Sir Keir added: “I am beginning to see why the Home Secretary said the Rwanda scheme was something to do with ‘bat’, I think, was it?

“What does he first think attracted Mr Kagame to hundreds of millions of pounds for nothing in return?”

Rishi Sunak replied: “The simple point is there is a simple question here. If you believe in stopping the boats, as we on this side of the House do, you need to have an effective deterrent and returns agreement. It is as simple as that.”

Referring to Labour MPs’ lobbying to prevent deportation flights of foreign criminals, the Prime Minister added: “He is not interested in stopping the boats, which is why he is not interested in the Rwanda plan.”

Rishi Sunak (pictured taking Cabinet yesterday) is facing a Tory pincer movement as he prepares to unveil emergency legislation on the Rwanda plan

Mr Sunak is walking a tightrope between warring wings of his party over whether to waive human rights rules to get deportation flights running.

He is expected to try to fudge the issue with what is being described as a ‘semi-skimmed’ option – stopping short of exempting the policy from the jurisdiction of European courts.

But centrist MPs are threatening to revolt against the law – due to be published tomorrow – if it goes too far in watering down international commitments.

Touring broadcast studios this morning, policing minister Chris Philp said the legislation would appear within ‘days’ and will do ‘whatever it takes to make sure that the Rwanda scheme is legally watertight and doesn’t get unpicked by the courts’. 

READ MORE – 29,000 migrants have reached the UK via the Channel this year as figures show proportion of Albanians crossing in small boats has fallen while one in nine arriving are Turkish 

Tory moderates said last night that they have received ‘assurances’ the PM will not proceed with the most radical option for resolving the stand-off with the Supreme Court over the flagship Rwanda scheme.

Mr Sunak has been examining the so-called ‘full-fat’ plan that would carve out the Rwanda scheme from the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), as advocated by many on the Tory Right.

Instead Mr Sunak is thought to be leaning towards a ‘semi-skimmed’ version of the legislation which could override the UK’s Human Rights Act but not the ECHR. This could limit legal challenges but leave open a right of appeal to Strasbourg.

A ‘skimmed’ version of the deal would simply see Parliament declare that, in the light of the new treaty signed with Rwanda yesterday, the African nation is a safe country to send migrants.

Downing Street insisted ‘no final decisions’ had been made on the legislation, which could be published as soon as tomorrow.

A source insisted the final legislative package would be ‘tough’. But a leading Tory moderate told the Mail No 10 had yesterday given private assurances that plans for setting aside the ECHR had been ‘dropped’.

The former Cabinet minister said: ‘There are people on the Right of the party shouting that we have to do this and the PM has flirted with it, but it is not necessary. 

‘It would not work and it now looks like it is not going to happen, which is a great relief and which makes it more likely we will actually get these flights going.’

Mr Sunak is understood to have been influenced by Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron, who ignored ECHR rulings on prisoner voting for years without leaving it.

The former prime minister told peers yesterday: ‘There are occasions when the ECHR makes judgments as they did on the issue of prisoner votes when they said that it was absolutely essential that we legislated to give prisons the vote.

Touring broadcast studios this morning, policing minister Chris Philp said the legislation would appear within ‘days’ and will do ‘whatever it takes to make sure that the Rwanda scheme is legally watertight and doesn’t get unpicked by the courts’

The Office for National Statistics ( ONS ) drastically revised its figure for the year to December up from 606,000 to 745,000, an increase of 139,000, almost the same as the population of Cambridge .

‘And I said I didn’t think that was the case, I think that should be settled by Houses of Parliament, and the ECHR backed down. So that sort of flexibility may well be necessary in the future.’

A Whitehall source said Mr Sunak was focused on what will work rather than ‘crowd pleasing’.

Supporters of the ‘full-fat’ plan, who include former Home Secretary Suella Braverman, argue it is the only way to guarantee the scheme is not subject to further debilitating legal challenges and ensure the first deportation flights take off before the next election.

But opponents, said to include senior Cabinet ministers, have warned the plan would damage the country’s international standing and put the Government on a collision course with judges who could block a new law, killing off hope of Rwanda flights next year.

Damian Green, who served as Theresa May’s deputy, said overriding the ECHR would be ‘the wrong thing to do’ and make it ‘pretty much impossible’ to get the legislation through the House of Lords.

Mr Green said the Government should ‘think twice’ before trying to limit the application of the ECHR or the Human Rights Act. 

Tory whips have warned as many as ten ministers could resign if the Government tries to override the ECHR, including Attorney General Victoria Prentis and Justice Secretary Alex Chalk.

But MPs on the Tory Right signalled they would continue to press for a ‘full fat’ option. 

Dozens are said to be ready to back an amendment to the legislation on the ECHR if Mr Sunak drops the plan. 

Mark Francois, of the European Research Group of Tory MPs, last night said the group’s lawyers would look for ‘unambiguous wording’ in the new plan that will ensure deportation flights can take place next year before backing it.

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