The United Kingdom has transferred an additional £100 million to Rwanda this year in connection with its agreement to relocate asylum seekers to the African nation, according to Sir Matthew Rycroft, the Home Office’s top civil servant. This comes after a previous payment of £140 million had already been sent to Rwanda. Sir Matthew revealed in a letter to MPs that another payment of £50 million is expected next year.
The relocation plan, intended to process asylum seekers in Rwanda as a deterrent against Channel crossings in small boats, was first announced by then-Prime Minister Boris Johnson in April 2022. However, legal challenges and delays have hindered the implementation of the scheme, and as of now, no asylum seekers have been sent from the UK to Rwanda.
The revelation of the additional £100 million comes after the resignation of Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick earlier this week. Chancellor Rishi Sunak has expressed his commitment to pushing forward with the plan, despite Jenrick’s departure. Sunak vowed to “finish the job” during a press conference on Thursday.
The funds allocated to Rwanda are not directly linked to the new treaty signed between the UK and Rwanda this week as part of the government’s effort to amend the policy. The Supreme Court ruled the existing policy unlawful last month.
Critics, including Labour’s shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper, have raised concerns about the lack of transparency regarding the costs associated with the relocation plan. Cooper accused the government of providing insufficient information to MPs who are expected to vote on emergency legislation related to the Rwanda policy next week.
Sir Matthew emphasised that the extra payments were unrelated to the new treaty and reiterated that the funds would contribute to the economic development and growth of Rwanda. A Home Office spokesperson declined to provide specific details about how the money would be spent.
The emergency legislation introduced by the government aims to address legal challenges surrounding the asylum seeker flights to Rwanda. The bill designates Rwanda as a safe country and grants ministers the authority to disregard certain sections of the Human Rights Act. However, it falls short of allowing the dismissal of the European Convention on Human Rights, a point of contention among some Conservative Party members.
The bill faces opposition from various factions within the Conservative Party when it returns to Parliament next week. Former Home Secretary Suella Braverman has expressed scepticism about the bill’s effectiveness in deterring boat crossings and called for a complete exclusion of international law.
The task of guiding the bill through Parliament now falls on Michael Tomlinson, the newly appointed illegal migration minister, who will work alongside Tom Pursglove, the minister for legal migration.