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UK could lose £120m if Rwanda deal ruled unlawful

The east African nation’s government confirmed it has already received the entire initial payment for the agreement signed by Priti Patel in April.

22 July 2022

Britain 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 it has 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.

Last month, Downing Street conceded that some cash had been paid but refused to say how much or when this had happened, saying the information was “confidential”.

On Friday, Rwandan government spokeswoman Yolande Makolo said: “There was an initial transfer of £120 million. This has already been paid and we are already using the funds to prepare.”

Asked by reporters whether the money would need to be repaid to the UK should the plan be barred by the courts, Ms Makolo said: “It’s paid over, it’s committed. Part of it has been used.”

She insisted Rwanda remains “committed” to the partnership, adding: “We are determined to make it work.”

Several asylum seekers, the Public and Commercial Services union and charities Care4Calais, Detention Action and Asylum Aid are challenging the legality of the Home Office policy, with the next court hearings due in September and October.

Doris Uwicyeza Picard, chief adviser to the Rwandan justice minister, told reporters: “We are confident in the legality of this partnership.”

The ongoing court cases have raised the prospect that a flight may not be attempted again until the winter.

Priti Patel visit to Rwanda
Since Home Secretary Priti Patel and Rwandan foreign affairs Vincent Biruta minister signed the agreement in April, more than 1,000 migrants have crossed the Channel to the UK (Flora Thompson/PA)

Some migrants issued with Rwanda removal directions have already been released from immigration detention because, as yet, another flight has not been lined up.

When asked whether the government is frustrated about the legal challenges, Ms Makolo said they were “expected”, adding: “We remain ready to receive the migrants and we are using this time to prepare and we’re confident it will go ahead.”

Earlier this week, the Commons Home Affairs Committee found there is “no evidence” that the policy is acting as a deterrent.

Since Home Secretary Priti Patel signed the deal, more than 1,000 migrants have crossed the Channel.

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