Douglas Ross defends controversial UK plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross

The Scottish Conservative leader said anything that reduces the number of people making the “treacherous” journey across the English Channel is “something that I think we have to look at seriously”.

Home Secretary Priti Patel is expected to sign a deal with the African nation which would see some of those who cross the Channel in small boats flown to Rwanda to have their claims processed.

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Refugee charities and Labour have already condemned the proposals, with shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper saying it is “unworkable, unethical and extortionate”.

Speaking at the launch of his party’s local election manifesto, Mr Ross said the policy was “based on a desire to deter people trafficking”.

He said: “We know in the last year something like 28,000 people crossed the Channel from France across to the United Kingdom.

“And something must be done to reduce those numbers as much as possible to deter criminals who are making a fortune out of trafficking.

“What I’ve heard so far is a proposal that is a similar proposal [to that] being adopted by Denmark to remove people who come here to have their asylum claims assessed elsewhere.”

He said “anything that can reduce the number of people making that treacherous journey” across the Channel is “something that I think we have to look at seriously”.

Addressing the proposals on Twitter, Ms Sturgeon said: “A despicable policy on its own terms.

“But add the fact that it’s being set out today to distract from #partygate and you see the utter moral bankruptcy of this Tory government laid bare. Shameful.”

Scottish Health Secretary Mr Yousaf tweeted: “UK Govt rightly provides asylum and refuge to Ukrainians fleeing war, but wants to send others seeking asylum thousands of miles away to Rwanda for ‘processing’ – and you still question whether this heartless Tory Govt is institutionally racist?”

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