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Suella Braverman says it is her ‘dream’ and ‘obsession’ to see a flight take asylum seekers to Rwanda

The Independent logo The Independent 05/10/2022 Lizzie Dearden
Conservative Party Conference 2022 © PA Conservative Party Conference 2022

Suella Braverman has said that seeing a flight take asylum seekers to Rwanda is her “dream” and “obsession”.

But the new home secretary told an event at the Conservative Party conference that she does not expect any planes to take off until after Christmas, because of ongoing legal challenges.

“I would love to have a front page of The Telegraph with a plane taking off to Rwanda, that’s my dream, it’s my obsession,” Ms Braverman said.

“[Starting by Christmas]  would be amazing but if I’m honest I think it will take longer. We’ve got to come out of the legal dispute we are currently embroiled in.”

Last month, The Independent revealed the full horrors of the first attempted Rwanda flight in June, which saw asylum seekers restrained and attached to plane seats after self-harming and threatening suicide.

Forms filled out by custody staff after “use of force incidents” show how the detainees started crying, screaming, shouting and frantically calling lawyers and loved ones after being told they would be sent to Rwanda.

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The asylum seekers were kept in custody vans and on the plane, at Boscombe Down, for hours before the flight was cancelled amid a wave of injunctions granted by the European Court of Human Rights.

The first High Court challenge over the Rwanda deal, which was signed by Priti Patel in April, was heard last month and the second will begin on Monday.

Judges are expected to rule on them both later this month, but Ms Braverman said that judgment could be challenged at the Court of Appeal, Supreme Court and European Court of Human Rights.

“Unfortunately we’ve got to let that play out,” the home secretary added, appearing at an event hosted by the Chopper’s Politics podcast.

Despite the ongoing action, the government told more asylum seekers they may be sent to Rwanda in legal notices issued during the period of national mourning following the Queen’s death.

The scheme targets refugees declared “inadmissible” for consideration by the government because they have passed through safe countries where it deems they could have claimed protection.

Official Home Office guidance says an asylum seeker who “spent a couple of weeks in Brussels staying with friends whilst trying to find an agent to bring them illegally to the UK” could meet the threshold.

Ms Braverman said she would soon travel to France to discuss efforts to combat small boat crossings, which have surged to a record of more than 33,500 people so far this year.

She claimed that French authorities should be intercepting 80 to 90 per cent of attempted crossings, and that better technology and drones could improve surveillance. But she acknowledged: “They do try again, it doesn’t stop the problem, it just delays it.

“We have to do something and we’ve got to bolster that defence, but it’s not in and of itself a solution.”

The home secretary, who was previously the attorney general, said that efforts by Boris Johnson and Ms Patel were “thwarted by our laws” and hinted at changes to the Human Rights Act and modern slavery legislation.

She confirmed that the Bill of Rights drawn up by former justice secretary Dominic Raab had been shelved, but that elements concerning the impact of the European Court of Human Rights were being taken forward.

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