James Cleverly with Rwandan Minister of Foreign Affairs Vincent Biruta
The minister put his name to a new treaty between the two governments which is designed to address concerns raised by the Supreme Court when it ruled the scheme illegal last month.
It states that the migrants will not be returned to a country where their life or freedom would be threatened - one of the court’s key criticisms.
Cleverly said: “Rwanda is a safe country that cares deeply about supporting refugees.
“It has a strong history of providing protection to those that need it, hosting over 135,000 asylum seekers who have found sanctuary there. I am grateful to our Rwandan partners for their willingness, dedication and commitment to strengthening this partnership further.
“The Supreme Court recognised that changes may be delivered which would address their conclusions – this treaty responds directly to that.”
Cleverly signed the treaty in Kigali alongside the Rwandan foreign minister, Vincent Biruta.
Incredibly, it is the third time in less than two years that Biruta has appeared alongside a Tory home secretary for a signing ceremony.
The first occasion was in April 2022, when then home secretary Priti Patel first agreed the UK/Rwanda migration and economic development partnership.
Home Secretary of the United Kingdom Priti Patel (L) and Rwandan Foreign Minister Vincent Biruta (R) sign an agreement on "Migration and Economic Development Partnership Agreement" inn Kigali, Rwanda on April 14, 2022.
And in March this year, Biruta signed an “enhanced partnership deal” with Patel’s successor, Suella Braverman.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman and Rwandan minister for foreign affairs and international co-operation, Vincent Biruta sign an enhanced partnership deal in Kigali, during her visit to Rwanda. Picture date: Saturday March 18, 2023.
But despite the multiple agreements, not a single migrant has been deported from the UK to Rwanda.
Asked this afternoon whether the first flight will take off by next spring, Cleverly would only say he wanted it to be “up and running as quickly as possible”.
"We are absolutely committed to breaking the business model of these people smuggling gangs to create a safe environment, with our friends... in Rwanda."
Home Secretary @JamesCleverly speaks after signing the Rwanda treatyhttps://t.co/xItZsH813I
📺 Sky 501 pic.twitter.com/WrLpJXnwhH
— Sky News (@SkyNews) December 5, 2023
Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper mocked the government over its handling of the Rwanda policy.
She said: “This is Groundhog Day. They’ve got more home secretaries going to Rwanda than asylum seekers.”