UK

James Cleverly heading to Rwanda to seal new asylum treaty

Home Secretary James Cleverly (Leon Neal/PA)
Home Secretary James Cleverly (Leon Neal/PA) Home Secretary James Cleverly (Leon Neal/PA)

The Home Secretary is preparing to sign a new treaty with Rwanda for the Government’s stalled asylum deal.

James Cleverly is travelling to Kigali to sign the agreement as Rishi Sunak bids to make the plan to send migrants to the African nation legally watertight after the Supreme Court’s ruling against the policy.

Domestic legislation is also planned so Parliament could assert Rwanda is a safe destination for asylum seekers who arrive in Britain.

Rwanda policy
Rwanda policy The Supreme Court ruled against the Government’s plan last month (Tom Pilgrim/PA)

Confirmed details of the finalised treaty are yet to be disclosed but reports have swirled about what it will contain.

There has been speculation that Rwanda is pushing for more money on top of the £140 million already committed to the scheme.

The Sunday Times reported that the capital of Kigali is to be given a £15 million top-up payment to agree fresh terms on the agreement to take migrants who arrive in the UK on small boats.

Mr Sunak met Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame on the sidelines of the Cop28 climate talks in Dubai on Friday.

He declined afterwards to say how much more money he would spend to get the scheme off the ground.

Paul Kagame with Rishi Sunak
Paul Kagame with Rishi Sunak Paul Kagame with Rishi Sunak (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Downing Street insisted there had been no demand for extra money from Rwanda.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “Certainly I don’t recognise that figure of £15 million, there’s been no request for additional funding for the treaty made by Rwanda, or not offered by the UK Government.”

The Daily Telegraph reported that British lawyers could be sent to advise Rwandan judges, perhaps for specific asylum case hearings or for longer periods, to help ensure appeals are granted correctly, although the Kigali government is unlikely to accept any arrangement which would look like colonial-style legal interference.

When Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer was pressed on whether British lawyers could be stationed in Rwanda’s courts, she told BBC Breakfast on Monday: “There is an issue about processing and I know that the Home Office are looking at that very carefully.

“I know that the Home Secretary James Cleverly is now working with Rwanda on a new treaty, and we will be bringing forward legislation in due course.”

After the Supreme Court judgment on November 15, the Government insisted it had been working on contingency measures and promised a treaty with Rwanda within days along with emergency legislation in Parliament, but so far neither has emerged.