Cleverly’s £165K Rwanda Trip Sparks Outrage Amid Asylum Costs

In a move raising eyebrows, Home Secretary James Cleverly has spent a hefty £165,561 on a private jet for a day trip to Rwanda to ink a deportation agreement under Rishi Sunak’s controversial plan.

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This expenditure was brought to light soon after the Institute for Public Policy Research’s estimate that Sunak’s asylum seeker removal strategy could cost a staggering £3.9bn over the next five years—that’s around £230,000 for every individual removed.

Disclosed by the Home Office, Cleverly’s December 2023 trip to Kigali involved officials and a TV crew, and the taxpayer footed the bill exceeding £160,000.

While there, Cleverly finalized a treaty with Rwanda’s foreign minister, establishing a new asylum appeals body. This body would consist of judges from various nations, all experts in asylum matters.

Cleverly wasn’t the first; he followed former home secretaries Priti Patel and Suella Braverman in flying to Rwanda to sign such agreements.

Rwanda’s government spokesperson stated that the nation has a solid track record of hosting refugees and that the treaty would reinforce existing commitments to protect asylum seekers.

The Home Office is gearing up, with 150 migrants already pegged for the initial two deportation flights.

The National Audit Office has shed light on the finances: the Home Office will shell out £370m to Rwanda for accepting asylum seekers. And once 300 have been relocated, another £120m will transfer. Britain’s additional costs per asylum seeker in Rwanda are estimated at £150,874, not including the £220m already earmarked for Rwanda’s economic development.

Sunak’s Rwanda bill has faced numerous obstacles, including a near revolt and delays earlier this year. The bill, dubbed the Safety of Rwanda Bill, has been a hot potato in Parliament, bouncing between the House of Commons and the Lords, where it faced defeats over international law adherence and the pre-flight implementation of the UK-Rwanda treaty.

Labour’s Vernon Coaker voiced concerns in the Lords, arguing that the nation’s reputation is on the line and that it’s indefensible for a bill to allow ministers to sidestep international law.

The bill is currently in a legislative limbo, known as “ping pong,” as it awaits further Commons discussion post-Easter recess.

A Home Office spokesperson defended the strategy: “Stopping the boats is a top priority. With asylum system costs potentially hitting £11 billion by 2026, we stand by our Rwanda partnership as a bold solution to stem the tide and save lives. We ensure all spending is thoroughly vetted for value.”

However, Labour’s Stephen Kinnock slammed Cleverly’s costly flight as “insulting,” criticizing the government’s willingness to squander taxpayer money. He proposed that Labour would invest in international police cooperation and a new unit to expedite the removal of those without the right to stay in the UK.

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