Jeremy Hunt vows to keep Rwanda scheme if he becomes Tory leader

Jeremy Hunt has vowed to keep the Rwanda scheme if he wins the Tory leadership contest.

The former Health Secretary defended the scheme dismissed by the Government’s own advisers, in a clear bid to appeal to the party membership.

Speaking on Sky News, Mr Hunt backed the plan and promised to make it work.

Asked if he supported it, he said: “I do but we’ve got to make it work and I’m not convinced it is working at the moment but we have to be honest that migration has become massively more mobile over recent years in a globalised world.

Jeremy Hunt defended the controversial policy

“Therefore if we want to become a humane country that offers a safe haven for people who genuinely need asylum, then we need to find legal safe routes for people to come here and not a mad dash for people to put their lives in the hands of people smugglers and try and get across the Channel.”

Three small boats carrying a total of 146 people have been intercepted crossing the Channel to the UK so far this weekend.

Women and children have been among recent arrivals making the dangerous journey.

The crossings confirmed by the Ministry of Defence on Saturday bring the total so far this year to 13,270, which compares to 6,659 by this point in 2021 and 2,459 in 2020.

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On Friday, Downing Street confirmed the Home Office agreement with Rwanda remained despite Boris Johnson’s resignation and suggested the first deportation flight could be made before a legal challenge against the policy is heard on July 19.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “This is a pre-agreed Government policy.

“Convention doesn’t prevent or preclude government from seeking to fulfil that policy and that would include defending cases in court as required.”

The South West Surrey MP also confirmed reports he would appoint Esther McVey as his deputy.

He said: “I recognise leaders of political parties need to win elections and that means having an appeal broader than any one person can have.

"I’ve worked with Esther in Cabinet and she’s a brilliant Cabinet minister but she’s also won very tough elections against Labour in the north, just as I’ve won very tough elections against the Lib Dems in the south and together, we will be a formidable campaigning team that will win the next election for the Conservative party.”

Mr Hunt, who made the final two in the last Tory leadership race, also claimed choosing someone for the top job who has not been associated with the current Government would be a “strong way” for the Conservative Party to show it had been listening to voters.

The Tory leadership candidate told LBC: “I’ve never served in (Boris Johnson’s) Cabinet and just listening to some of your earlier listeners and the conversations you were having, I do think that choosing someone who has not been associated with his Government would be a strong way for the Conservative Party to say that it had listened to the anger of many, many voters.”

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