Suella Braverman Signed Off Extra Cash For Rwanda Deportation Scheme, Says No.10

Suella Braverman not Rishi Sunak agreed to spend an extra £100 million on the controversial Rwanda deportation scheme, Downing Street has said.

Taxpayers are being handed a £290 million bill for the policy, despite not a single flight having yet taken off for the east African country.

The government spent a further £100 million in the 2023-24 financial year on the policy, on top of the £140 million previously paid out. Ministers expect another £50 million cost in the coming year.

Asked on Friday morning who signed off the extra money, the prime minister’s spokesperson said: “The home secretary.”

Braverman, who was sacked by Sunak last month, was still running the Home Office at the time.

Pressed on whether Sunak had also signed off the cash, the spokesperson said: “No”, adding it had been “an operation decision for the home secretary”.

This morning one of the two new immigration ministers, Tom Pursglove defended the cost.

“When you consider that we are unacceptably spending £8m a day in the asylum system at the moment, it is a key part of our strategy to bring those costs down,” he told Sky News.

“I think this is the right investment to make that will help us to achieve those objectives of saving lives at sea, stopping people drowning in the Channel, as well as getting those costs under control.”

One-way flights taking asylum seekers to Rwanda remain grounded amid a series of legal setbacks.

The figures were revealed in a letter from Home Office official Matthew Rycroft to the chairs of two parliamentary committees probing the policy.

Labour’s shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said: “It’s basically £100m for every home secretary trip to Rwanda. Even by the standards of this chaotic and hopeless Tory government, this is unbelievable.”

This week, Sunak unveiled a bill that will let it ignore a part of the UK’s human rights law in order to send asylum seekers to Rwanda as part of his “stop the boats” policy.

The legislation is designed to overcome a block by the UK Supreme Court on its Rwanda policy.

The court ruled last month that the plan was illegal because Rwanda isn’t a safe country for refugees.

MPs will first vote on the new law on Tuesday, but many Tories have yet to say whether they will back it.

It came after James Cleverly became the third home secretary to sign a deal with Rwanda, meaning the country’s foreign minister, Vincent Biruta, once again appeared alongside a Tory minister for a signing ceremony.