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UK foreign secretary insists Rwanda deportation flight is ‘value for money’

U.K. Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said Tuesday that the first Rwanda deportation flight will be “value for money” — even though there will only be a handful of people on board.

The first flight to Rwanda is part of a controversial policy implemented by the U.K. government, who says it will deter people from crossing the Channel to migrate. It is set to take off around 9:30 p.m. on Tuesday evening, as human rights lawyers are battling to prevent migrants from being deported.

A Home Office official told London Playbook that just seven people were now due to be on the flight, but that the ongoing “legal merry go-round” was likely to mean “the removal of every last person” from it.

But Truss was undeterred by the legal wrangling and backlash — which has included broadsides from the Church of England leadership, Prince Charles, and union representatives for the Border Force.

“There will be people on the flight, and if they are not on this flight they will be on the next flight,” she told Sky News on Tuesday morning.

And Truss brushed off criticism of the measure. “Those people need to suggest an alternative policy that will work to deal with these illegal people traffickers,” she said.

The flight is “value for money” Truss said. She added that she doesn’t “have a figure” for the number of people on board, but “the important point is the principle … we want to break the model of the people traffickers.”

The U.K.’s £120 million deal with Rwanda, signed in April by Home Secretary Priti Patel and backed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, allows the U.K. government to send migrants to Rwanda where they would have to apply for asylum, instead of in the U.K. The deal has survived legal challenges, including one which was rejected Monday by the Court of Appeal.

Labour’s Shadow Culture Secretary Lucy Powell called the measure “unworkable,” “unethical” and “not going to stop the illegal trafficking of people across the country” on Sky News Tuesday morning.

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