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15th Jun 2022

Priti Patel ‘very surprised’ after Rwanda flight cancelled and preparations have begun for next one

Charlie Herbert

Priti Patel 'very surprised' by Rwanda flight grounding

‘Preparation for the next flight begins now’

Priti Patel has said she found the decision by judges to ground the first deportation flight to Rwanda “very surprising” but has vowed to carry on with the policy.

On Monday night, the Home Office confirmed that the first scheduled flight to Rwanda would not be taking off due to “last minute interventions from the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).”

The ECHR confirmed it had granted an urgent interim measure in regards to an Iraqi national on the flight, just hours after the UK’ Supreme Court had rejected a last-minute appeal by campaigners to stop the flights.

The government had previously been adamant that the flight would take off.

In a statement following the news that the flight to the East African country would not be departing, the Home Secretary said: “Earlier this year, I signed a world-leading migration partnership with Rwanda to see those arriving dangerously, illegally, or unnecessarily into the UK relocated to build their lives there.

“This will help break the people smugglers’ business model and prevent loss of life, while ensuring protection for the genuinely vulnerable.

“I have always said this policy will not be easy to deliver and am disappointed that legal challenge and last-minute claims have meant today’s flight was unable to depart.”

She continued: “It is very surprising that the European Court of Human Rights has intervened, despite repeated earlier success in our domestic courts.

“These repeated legal barriers are similar to those we experience with other removals flights and many of those removed from this flight will be placed on the next.”

But the Home Secretary said the government would “not be deterred from doing the right thing and delivering our plans to control our nation’s borders,” adding that “preparation for the next flight begins now.”

Rwandan Government spokesperson Yolande Makolo said: “We are not deterred by these developments.

“Rwanda remains fully committed to making this partnership work. The current situation of people making dangerous journeys cannot continue as it is causing untold suffering to so many.”

But London mayor Sadiq Khan welcomed the decision for the flights to be blocked, tweeting that the policy is “cruel and callous.”

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