Lord Harrington of Watford, Minister for Refugees, stopped shortly of explicitly supporting the policy when asked several times on Times Radio about it.
Pressed by presenter Matt Chorley on the controversial Rwanda policy, the peer said: “Well, I’m a minister for Ukrainian refugees. And it’s my job to resettle them. They come in via legal routes. I mean, it is a legal route to come in as refugees from Ukraine. And this country has always been very good at legal routes.
“Illegal routes are different and the Government has to do what it thinks right to try and stop these people smugglers from smuggling people in.”
Asked again if the Rwanda plan sent the right message he said: “Well, as I say, I’m the Minister for Ukrainian refugees. I was given this project to do by the government, which I changed my life to do and that’s what I’m doing…I’m doing what I’ve been asked to do by the Prime Minister.”
Under the Government’s Rwanda plan, people who are seeking asylum after being deemed to have entered the UK unlawfully will be flown to the African country.
Their asylum applications will be processed there and if approved, they would be offered the option of long-term accommodation in Rwanda.
Home Secretary Priti Patel has admitted the policy will “take time” to come into force.