WATCH: Starmer slams government Rwanda scheme as “chaotic diversion”

Katie Neame

Keir Starmer has slammed the government’s Rwanda scheme as a “chaotic diversion” after the Home Office cancelled the removal of three asylum seekers fighting against their deportation in the High Court.

The government announced last month that the first group of asylum seekers to be deported under the scheme would be removed on June 14th.

In an interview with Sky News today, the Labour leader described the government policy as a “chaotic diversion” which “isn’t going to solve the problems”. He added: “Course, we don’t want people making that dangerous crossing. Of course, we want to clamp down on the people smugglers.

“The way to do that is to have a proper plan with the French authorities and a proper plan for upstream operations to intercept these groups before they even arrive on the north coast of France.”

The Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union launched a legal challenge in April against the government’s deal with Rwanda. PCS is bringing the case jointly with charities Care4Calais and Detention Action, as well as four individual asylum seekers.

Emergency proceedings launched in the High Court on Wednesday. Court submissions revealed today that the Home Office has cancelled the deportation of three of the four asylum seekers.

The legal challenge argues that Priti Patel’s failure to disclose the eligibility criteria for being transferred to Rwanda is an unlawful breach of her duty of transparency and the wider constitutional right of access to justice.

The organisations involved also contend that the removal of asylum seekers from the UK to Rwanda would itself be unlawful, as the policy penalises individuals on the basis of irregular entry, in contravention of the Refugee Convention. They are  seeking an injunction to block next week’s planned first flight.

Care4Calais reported that there were close to 100 people in detention who had been informed they would be sent to Rwanda. The charity’s founder Clare Moseley said “almost all are overwhelmed by total shock and despair”.

“Many came to the UK believing it to be a good place that would treat them more fairly than the places from which they escaped. We say that the Rwanda plan is unlawful. We hope the courts will agree with us,” she added.

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