Liz Truss has said she will extend the controversial Rwanda asylum scheme, in a move to firm up support among Tory party voters in the race to succeed Boris Johnson.
The Foreign Secretary, in an interview with the Mail on Sunday, suggested that as Prime Minister she would extend the Rwanda policy, despite it currently being in legal limbo.
Britain currently stands to lose £120 million it has paid to Rwanda if the plan to deport migrants is ruled unlawful by the courts.
Officials for the east African nation’s government confirmed this week it had received the entire initial payment for the agreement signed in April and that the funds are already “committed”, with some money spent on preparations for arrivals.
The first deportation flight was grounded in June after a series of legal challenges, and another attempt is yet to be scheduled.
Ms Truss, who has vocally backed the Rwanda plan, told the newspaper: “The Rwanda policy is the right policy. I’m determined to see it through to full implementation, as well as exploring other countries that we can work on similar partnerships with. It’s the right thing to do.
“I’m also determined to make sure that we have the right level of forces at our border. I’m going to increase the border force to make sure that we have the proper protection in place directly at the border.”
Tory leadership rival Rishi Sunak is also set to unveil his immigration plans in the days to come.
According to the Mail on Sunday, Ms Truss said that if she defeats the former chancellor in the vote of party members she will increase Border Force staff levels from 9,000 to 10,800.
She would also bring forward a strengthened UK Bill of Rights to provide a “sound legal basis” to tackle illegal migration, the paper reports.
“I’m determined to end the appalling people trafficking we’re seeing,” she told the paper.
“I make sure things get done, and I will be working with my colleagues to deliver this as an absolute priority.
“I understand it’s a priority for people and we need to make sure our immigration system is fair, and this illegal immigration that we’re seeing across the Channel is both unfair and incredibly dangerous, and it is one of my priorities to make sure it is sorted.
“I know from my work as Foreign Secretary that there are more countries who we want to work with and we will be moving forward on those efforts very strongly under my leadership.
“We need to make sure that the British Bill of Rights fully delivers on giving the UK government the powers and UK parliament the sovereignty to be able to deliver the policy in full. That’s very important for me.
“Britain’s borders will be protected under my leadership and I will do what it takes to make the Rwanda deal fully implemented and also look to other arrangements with other countries. “
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