Rwanda immigration move defended as Denmark passed law allowing it to relocate asylum seekers outside EU

Britain is not the only country to pass a law allowing for the relocation of asylum seekers

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The Government is announcing multimillion-pound plans for asylum seekers who cross the Channel in small boats to be flown for processing to Rwanda.

Home Secretary Priti Patel is expected to sign a deal with the East African nation during a visit on Thursday, with people seeking sanctuary in the UK to be sent more than 4,000 miles.

Some of those who make the perilous crossing of the Channel, as well as by other means deemed “illegal” by the Government, would be sent to Rwanda while their claims are assessed “offshore”.

An initial £120million is expected to be given to the Rwandan government under a trial scheme, which is being criticised by refugee charities as “cruel and nasty”.

They add that it will fail to address the issue and “lead to more human suffering and chaos”.

Channel migrants heading towards the Kent coastline
Channel migrants heading towards the Kent coastline
Priti Patel arriving in Rwanda
Priti Patel arriving in Rwanda

But Government figures stress that Britain is not the only country to do this, noting that Denmark passed a law allowing it to relocate asylum seekers to countries outside the EU to have their applications processed.

A Danish government spokesperson said last year: “If you apply for asylum in Denmark, you know that you will be sent back to a country outside Europe, and therefore we hope that people will stop seeking asylum in Denmark."

And a Whitehall source told Politico: “It’s amazing how many people have dismissed this agreement before a single detail of it has been announced.

"People don’t have any idea what has been agreed, but everyone has an opinion.”

With Prime Minister Boris Johnson due to make a speech on the proposals, the Government has already faced heavy criticism.

Scotland’s Health Secretary accused the UK Government of being “institutionally racist” over the Rwanda plan.

Humza Yousaf tweeted: “UK Govt rightly provides asylum and refuge to Ukrainians fleeing war, but wants to send others seeking asylum thousands of miles away to Rwanda for ‘processing’.

“And you still question whether this heartless Tory Govt is institutionally racist?”

While Labour MP Lucy Powell said the Government’s announcement is “less about dealing with small boats and more about dealing with the Prime Minister’s own sinking boat” as a distraction amid the Partygate scandal.

The Shadow Cabinet minister told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “This is quite obviously a pretty desperate attempt by the Prime Minister to distract from his law-breaking and I don’t think there would be many of your listeners that wouldn’t take it with a large dose of scepticism.

“It’s a plan that might sound good in a focus group and would certainly grab the headlines because it’s very controversial and contestable – but in reality, it is unworkable, expensive, and unethical.

“It will end up costing us a lot more money in the long run and it won’t deal with the issues of the very, very poor decision-making that is happening in the Home Office.

“It won’t do anything to deal with the fact that we don’t have any return agreements, which is part of the issue in the backlog in the system.

“So I do say again, I think this is less about dealing with small boats and more about dealing with the Prime Minister’s own sinking boat.”