Rishi Sunak ‘had doubts’ over Rwanda plan says new documents | Politics | News | Express.co.uk
The Prime Minister reportedly favoured using hotels to clamp down on immigration numbers
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Rishi Sunak reportedly doubted the Rwanda plan (Image: Getty)
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak reportedly “had doubts” about the effectiveness of the Rwanda plan.
The BBC says documents from Number 10 revealed Sunak was unsure if the plan would prevent channel crossings. He reportedly raised his concerns in March 2022, a month before the-then Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the plan.
Since taking over from Lizz Truss, Sunak has made the plan one of his top priorities, despite it dividing his own MPs and facing a series of legal challenges. In December Sunak urged his MPs to back his proposal, even though some Right-wing Tories said it did not go far enough.
Others were concerned it would lead to more legal challenges before planes could take off for Africa. However, it passed a major hurdle in the House of Commons, passing through onto its next stage with a majority of 44.
A smashed screen showing Rishi Sunak’s plea to stop the boats (Image: Getty)
Documents seen by the Beeb now suggest Sunak believed “hotels are cheaper” than housing asylum seekers in retention centres. He was also concerned about the cost of sending people to Rwanda.
The documents revealed the “chancellor wants to pursue smaller volumes initially” with 500 flown to Rwanda in the first year of the scheme, instead of the proposed 1,500. They say he then proposed “3,000 instead of 5,000 in years two and three”.
He is described as believing the “deterrent won’t work”.
The documents, which say No 10 suggested Sunak needed to “consider his popularity with the base” over the Rwanda plan, said the then Chancellor was reluctant to fund “Greek-style reception centres” at a cost of £3.5 million a day to house migrants in favour of hotels.
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The Prime Minister wants to clamp down on Channel crossings (Image: Getty)
Sunak has pledged to continue with the plan for migrant flights to Rwanda, despite a ruling by the UK Supreme Court that it was unlawful, while the BBC said a source close to the Prime Minister said he was “always fully behind the principle of the scheme” but need to ensure money was “appropriately spent” in his role as Chancellor.
Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper told the BBC: “The Prime Minister knew the plan was incredibly costly and wouldn’t work, and resisted it while he was Chancellor. But he is so weak he has now agreed to write cheques to Rwanda for £400 million without sending a single person there in a desperate attempt to shore up his leadership.”
Sunak reiterated his support for the Rwanda plan on Tuesday, saying: “I am focused on delivering on my commitment to stop the boats and get flights off the ground to Rwanda.”