UK's Rwanda asylum flight cancelled after European Court order
Indy

A Tory minister who was born in Iraq was asked what would have happened to him if he was sent to Rwanda, as the government's controversial migration scheme hits the headlines once more.

Nadhim Zahawi was interviewed yesterday ahead of the first planned flight to the country, which was later thwarted by the ECHR.

Sky News' Jayne Secker said one of the people scheduled to go on the plane was from Iraq and drew comparisons between him and Zahawi who came to the UK aged 11 from the country.

"How do you think you would have fared if you had been put on a plane and sent to Rwanda?" she asked.

Zahawi replied: "The important thing to remember is we have legal routes for immigration or for asylum and refuge in our country and we want to make sure that people come here legally."

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He also said he was "very proud" of schemes to settle people fleeing Afghanistan, Hong Kong and Ukraine but said gangs were "preying on the vulnerabilities of families" by "putting them on unsafe boats" in the channel.

"We've got to break their business model so that actually the legal routes are the way forward," he said. "Those people have arrived in a safe country in France. My family fled directly from Iraq to a safe country which is the United Kingdom and I'm very proud of that".

Last night the ECHR ruled that one of the seven people who had been scheduled to leave on the flight should not be removed. This allowed lawyers representing the others to make last-minute applications of their own.

Responding to the decision, Patel said she was “disappointed” by the legal challenge to the scheme which will send people arriving to the UK to the country and said that the policy will continue.

“We will not be deterred from doing the right thing and delivering our plans to control our nation’s borders,” she said. “Our legal team are reviewing every decision made on this flight and preparation for the next flight begins now.”

Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary, said that the government must take responsibility for the failed flight, and indicated that the government does not mind clashing with lawyers and the European courts.

“Ministers are pursuing a policy they know isn’t workable and that won’t tackle criminal gangs,” she wrote on Twitter last night. “But they still paid Rwanda £120m and hired a jet that hasn’t taken off because they just want a row and someone else to blame.”

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