Foreign Secretary Liz Truss insisted that the first deportation flight carrying asylum seekers to Rwanda will take off today, but was unable to say how many would be onboard.
Ms Truss hit back at Church of England leaders’ claims that the Government’s scheme was “immoral” and challenged critics of the policy to come up with an alternative.
And she insisted the Government-run flight was “value for money” despite not being able to say how much it cost.
The flight scheduled to take off today comes after last-minute legal challenges to the Home Office policy at the Court of Appeal failed yesterday.
Speaking to Sky News, Ms Truss said: “We are expecting to send the flight later today. I can’t say exactly how many people will be on the flight.
“But the really important thing is that we establish the principle. And we start to break the model, the business model of these appalling people, traffickers who are trading in misery.
“That is why we’re doing this policy. And that’s why it’s important that we get the flight out today.”
She added that there will be people on the flight, and if not on this one, “they will be on the next one”.
Ms Truss insisted that the Government was determined to tackle “appalling people traffickers” causing “untold misery” by carrying out the policy.
But she was unable to put a figure on the cost of the flight, admitting that she “can’t put a finger on that”.
She said: “What we have to look at is the cost of illegal immigration, the costs to the United Kingdom the cost of the individuals in their families, who are suffering from the actions of these people, traffickers.
“That’s theissue that we are seeking to deal with, by putting in place this route to Rwanda.”
Twenty five bishops, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, wrote a letter in the The Times, denouncing the Government policy to send asylum seekers to the east African country.
Rejecting the religious leaders claims that the policy was “immoral”, Ms Truss said “I don’t agree with that”.
“What I’m saying is our policy is completely legal. It’s completely moral. We are housing people in a safe country in Rwanda,” she told Sky News.
“And what I’m saying to the critics of the policy, who don’t have an alternative about how we deal with this illegal migration, is they don’t have an alternative. They’re criticizing our policy, which is effective and does work.”
There will be people on the flight and if they’re not on this flight , they will be on the next flightbecause we are determined to break the model of the appalling people traffickers and sort this issue out which has caused untold misery, including people dying in the English Channel”.