New date set for first Rwanda deportation flights if Tories win election, court documents reveal

The earliest date Rwanda deportation flights could take off has been pushed back to late July, new court documents show.

Rishi Sunak’s government had originally promised that flights taking migrants to Rwanda would start in the last week of June, but this was delayed due to the calling of the general election for 4 July. Government lawyers have told the High Court that the earliest date on which flights could start is 24 July.

The new date was revealed in a court order issued as part of the charity Asylum Aid’s legal challenge against the government’s Rwanda policy.

Mr Sunak has promised that asylum seekers will be deported to the East African nation if he is re-elected, creating a dividing line between the Tories and Keir Starmer’s Labour, which has pledged to ditch it.

Rishi Sunak has said that if he is re-elected as prime minister ‘we will get our Rwanda scheme up and running’ (PA)
Rishi Sunak has said that if he is re-elected as prime minister ‘we will get our Rwanda scheme up and running’ (PA)

Last week a cross-party group of MPs concluded that the Home Office “does not have a credible plan” for sending asylum seekers to Rwanda. The Public Accounts Committee, which has a Tory majority and a Labour chair, said it had “little confidence” that the Home Office could implement the plan.

The new start date for the Rwanda plan came in a short ruling on Monday from Mr Justice Chamberlain, the High Court judge, who is overseeing legal challenges.

During a timetabling hearing on Monday, the Home Office’s barrister told the judge that removals would begin on 24 July. Mr Justice Chamberlain said that “all this is, of course, subject to the outcome of the general election”.

Separately to the Asylum Aid legal challenge, the civil service union the FDA is also taking the Home Office to court over the Rwanda policy. It is concerned about circumstances in which civil servants could be told to break international law by proceeding with removals.

Its case is due to be heard on Thursday, and the Asylum Aid case is scheduled for the week of 8 July.