Rwanda asylum plan: Court allows first flight to go ahead

Under the scheme, some of those entering the UK illegally will be flown to Rwanda to apply for asylum there.

Is allowance instantly strangers applauded

The government's first flight taking asylum seekers to Rwanda can go ahead on Tuesday, appeal court judges say.

It supports a previous decision by the High Court that it was in the "public interest" for the government to carry out its policies.

Under the scheme, some of those entering the UK illegally will be flown to Rwanda to apply for asylum there.

Campaigners were trying to stop the flight before a full hearing on whether the policy is lawful next month.

The charity Detention Action and the PCS union that represents some Border Force staff, who were among the groups who brought the case, said they were "disappointed" by the decision.

The court earlier heard 11 people were expected to be on Tuesday's flight.

However, charity Care4Calais, which was among those appealing against the High Court decision, said only eight people were now due to fly.

The numbers drastically reduced after legal challenges relating to modern slavery and human rights claims, a Home Office source told the BBC.

The government hopes the scheme will discourage asylum seekers from crossing the English Channel and therefore undermine smuggling gangs.

But Care4Calais described it as "cruel and barbaric", and the scheme has been criticised by other charities, religious leaders, and opposition parties.

The policy will see people given accommodation and support in Rwanda while their asylum application is being considered by the Rwandan government.

If they are successful, they can stay there with up to five years' access to education and support.

Those who fail in their asylum bids in Rwanda will be offered the chance to apply for other immigration routes, but could still face deportation.

'New opportunities'

Just before the ruling, SNP home affairs spokesman Stuart McDonald told MPs in the Commons it was a "cash-for-deportations" policy "akin to state-sponsored trafficking and transportation".

But Home Office minister Tom Pursglove replied that the comparison was "plain wrong" and "very offensive not just to this government but also, I'd argue, hugely offensive to the Rwandans too".

Mr Pursglove said the policy offers "new opportunities for those relocated to Rwanda" and "people will no longer be able to pay evil people smugglers to go to a destination of their choice while passing through safe, sometimes several safe, countries."

More than 10,000 people have made the dangerous journey across the Channel so far this year. Another 37 people were brought into Dover by Border Force earlier on Monday.