Rwanda plan will deal with asylum claim loophole, government saysPublished1 hour agoShareclose panelShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingImage caption, Michael Tomlinson says 22,000 asylum seekers claims will be dealt with by new legislationBy Jake LaphamBBC NewsThe illegal immigration minister has denied suggestions the government is hamstrung over how to manage the claims of tens of thousands of asylum seekers.Legislation bans the government from granting asylum to anyone arriving illegally on or after 7 March last year.But new laws requiring their deportation only became effective from 20 July.It leaves the claims of more than 22,400 people in apparent legal limbo. Minister Michael Tomlinson said the Rwanda plan, which the Supreme Court ruled unlawful in November, will give the government a way to deal with the claims.”The bill, when it comes in… means that we can get planes off the ground, so we need to get that bill to come through,” he told the BBC’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg.Mr Tomlinson said the bill, which is making its way through parliament, would apply to asylum seekers already in the UK.In a separate interview on Sky News, he gave a full-throated defence of the government’s Rwanda plan.Asked whether he would guarantee planes carrying asylum seekers would take-off for Rwanda, Mr Tomlinson replied “yes”. “Yes, we need to get through the bill first, yes we need to get the treaty ratified, and then the planes will take-off.”Prime Minister Rishi Sunak last week shook hands on a £1000 bet with TV host Piers Morgan that flights would depart before the next election.Rwanda plan is fundamentally flawed, parliamentary report warnsWeather data casts doubt on government’s claim over fall in migrant crossingsBut a report in the iPaper claimed a contradiction in the government’s small boats policy left the Home Office powerless to deport or grant asylum to 22,448 asylum seekers who arrived between March and July.The government is legally required to house and support the asylum seekers while their claims are being processed, costing taxpayers millions of pounds each day.Mr Tomlinson said a “decision to pause” was taken while the government mulled over how to respond to the Supreme Court ruling.Home Secretary James Cleverly said a new treaty with Rwanda signed in December addressed the court’s concerns.Labour has sharpened its line of attack on migration, laying the blame for a third of all boat arrivals since January 2018 at the feet of Rishi Sunak.More than 38,000 small boats have crossed the English Channel since he became prime minister, according to figures circulated by Labour.”By focusing solely on getting off a few symbolic flights to Rwanda at massive cost to the taxpayer, he has taken his eye off the vital task of stopping the criminal smuggler gangs,” shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said.Mr Tomlinson’s appearance on the BBC followed Conservative defeats at two by-elections in Wellingborough and Kingswood.The overturning of big Conservative majorities in those seats came against a “difficult backdrop”, the minister said.”Governments don’t traditionally win by-elections,” he added. “We saw the turnout in the by-elections very different from the turnout that you get in a general election.”Related TopicsUK immigrationRefugees and asylum seekersMore on this storyRwanda treaty deals with legal concerns – CleverlyPublished5 December 2023Rwanda plan flawed at core says cross-party reportPublished6 days agoSupreme Court rules Rwanda asylum policy unlawfulPublished15 November 2023