'Zero chance' Rwanda deportation flights paused during leadership race as Tories BACK plan

Downing Street and the Home Office had vowed to continue working on plans for another flight to the east African nation in keeping with the convention of continuing policies already in place. Government sources, however, told The Times that there was “zero chance” of any flights occurring before a new Prime Minister was elected in September.

All of the leading candidates have stated that they would continue with the policy if they were elected as the next Conservative leader. Jeremy Hunt has said he would consider expanding the policy to include other destination countries.

Before the swift collapse of Boris Johnson’s cabinet last week, Home Secretary Priti Patel had vowed to continue to fight for another flight as the High Court prepared to hear a judicial review of the policy on July 19.

However, yesterday the High Court announced that the review has now been pushed back until September to allow time for the applicants’ legal teams to prepare.

The first Rwanda flight, which after legal challenges was only carrying 7 asylum seekers, was cancelled on June 14 after an 11th-hour intervention by the European Court of Human Rights.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “The government will not be deterred as we plan for the next flight to Rwanda. We will keep individuals detained where appropriate and if released on bail we may seek to tag them if appropriate.”

However, official sources have ruled this out, claiming the flight would cause too much controversy.

More than 400 people arrived in the UK yesterday after crossing the channel in small boats.

The news comes as all of the top Tory leadership candidates so far have pledged to continue the policy which polls well with Tory voters.

A spokesman for former Chancellor Rishi Sunak told The Times: “Rishi signed off and funded the Asylum Partnership Agreement with Rwanda, and now he just wants to make sure that it works.

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Former Health Secretary Sajid Javid and Tory backbencher Tom Tugendhat have both made public comments in support of the policy.

A YouGov poll conducted earlier this year showed that the Rwanda policy has significant support among Conservative voters with 59 per cent backing the policy.

The policy also was also popular among Leave voters with 57 per cent of Brexitiers supporting the policy. However, when put to all voters only 35 per cent voiced support for the deportation flights.

Tory leadership candidates likely know that in order to gain Conservative voters’ support they will need to continue with or even expand the Rwanda plan.

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