The Home Secretary has signed a fresh treaty with Rwanda amid efforts to get the Government’s stalled asylum deal off the ground.
James Cleverly travelled to Kigali and signed the agreement on Tuesday as Rishi Sunak bids to make the plan to send migrants to the African nation legally watertight after the Supreme Court’s ruling against the policy.
Domestic legislation is also planned so Parliament could assert Rwanda is a safe destination for asylum seekers who arrive in Britain.
Confirmed details of the finalised treaty are yet to be disclosed but reports have swirled about what it will contain.
There has been speculation that Rwanda is pushing for more money on top of the £140 million already committed to the scheme.
The bid to send some asylum seekers on a one-way trip to the African nation was dealt a blow when the Supreme Court ruled it unlawful last month.
After the judgment on November 15, the Government insisted it had been working on contingency measures and promised a treaty with Rwanda within days along with emergency legislation in Parliament, but the wait has gone on for more than two weeks.
The Rwanda proposal is seen as key to delivering on Mr Sunak’s pledge to stop migrant boats before a likely general election next year, with January marking a year since he made the commitment.
Former home secretary Priti Patel initially signed what she called the “world-first” agreement with Rwanda in April last year.
The Sunday Times reported that the Kigali government is to be given a £15 million top-up payment to agree fresh terms on its agreement to take migrants who arrive in the UK on small boats.
Sunak/ Kugame meet-up
Mr Sunak met Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame on the sidelines of the Cop28 climate talks in Dubai on Friday.
He declined afterwards to say how much more money he would spend to get the scheme off the ground.
Downing Street insisted there had been no demand for extra money from Rwanda.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “Certainly I don’t recognise that figure of £15 million, there’s been no request for additional funding for the treaty made by Rwanda, or not offered by the UK Government.”
The Daily Telegraph reported that British lawyers could be sent to advise Rwandan judges, perhaps for specific asylum case hearings or for longer periods, to help ensure asylum appeals are granted correctly, although the Kigali government is unlikely to accept any arrangement which would look like colonial-style legal interference.