- Mr Dowden also said government would spend ‘whatever is required’ on scheme
The Deputy Prime Minister said the flagship scheme was a vital measure in the UK’s bid to break the business model of the ‘vile’ people smuggling gangs.
The Mail revealed this month that total payments to Rwanda are on course to double to £290 million next year, despite court delays preventing any flights from taking off.
But, speaking during a round of media interviews yesterday, Mr Dowden suggested the government would press on with the scheme even if costs rise further.
‘We will spend whatever is required to make sure that we can control this vile trade,’ he said.
‘We need to stop this and we need to restore confidence in our immigration system now. We’ve made progress with a controlling legal migration. It’s down by a third. But this is an important part of our plan to make sure we restore control to our migration system.’
Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden vowed on Sunday to spend ‘whatever is required’ to send Channel migrants to Rwanda
In an olive branch to potential rebels, Mr Dowden said that the Government was prepared to listen to Tory MPs who have criticised the plan
Mr Dowden also hinted that ministers are prepared to listen to Tory rebels who have complained that new legislation designed to overcome legal challenges is likely to fail unless it is strengthened.
Almost 30 Tory MPs, including former home secretary Suella Braverman and former immigration minister Robert Jenrick, abstained on the legislation last week – as rebels warned they could vote it down last year unless it prevents migrants from lodging individual appeals against deportation at the European Court of Human Rights.
Mr Sunak has said his proposals are already so tough it is not possible to move an ‘inch’ further.
But Mr Dowden suggested some changes could be made before the legislation returns to the Commons next month.
‘Of course we don’t rule out amendments and of course we will engage with that – that’s what happens with any piece of parliamentary legislation,’ he said.
‘What I would say, though, is that the Prime Minister is a pretty rigorous person, he’s looked through this very carefully, turned it upside down, shaken it around, he’s pretty sure this is the best thing we can get.
‘But, of course, if there are other ways of improving it, we’ll be open to doing that.’
Meanwhile, the Home Office insisted it had ‘robust plans’ for flights to Rwanda, following reports airlines have refused to sign contracts to take part in the flagship asylum policy.
The Home Office insisted that there were ‘robust plans’ for flights to Rwanda, despite reports that airlines are refusing to sign up to the scheme over fears of reputational damage. Pictured: The short term holding facility for migrants in Manston, Kent
The Sunday Times reported that firms have so far declined to sign up over fears of damage to their reputations from taking part in the plan.
According to the paper, ministers have since appointed an agent to source a commercial aircraft supplier willing to ferry migrants to the African nation if and when the scheme becomes operational.
A failure to do so raises the prospect of the Ministry of Defence and the RAF stepping in.
Home Official officials insist that if and when the Rwanda legislation becomes law, there will be flights available.
A Government spokesman said: ‘The Government is committed to doing whatever it takes to stop the boats and get flights to Rwanda off the ground as soon as possible.’