The government has begun to round up and detain up to 5,700 refugees in preparation for their deportation to Rwanda.


However, the latest data has revealed that around 3,500 asylum seekers on the government’s deportation list have gone missing, although ministers insist that those who have disappeared will be found.


Meanwhile, the Irish government has announced that it will return to the UK the  refugees it says have crossed into Ireland from Northern Ireland. It reckons that 80 per cent of recent arrivals have come from Northern Ireland. The ability to return refugees to the UK was enshrined in the UK’s 2020 post-Brexit agreement with the Irish state, according to their prime minister, Simon Harris. He says the Irish government is now prepared to pass a law stating that the UK is safe for refugees, despite a recent Irish high court judgment ruling the UK unsafe, because of the Rwanda scheme.

Rishi Sunak claims that the flight of refugees to Ireland proves that the Rwanda plan is working, but the scheme is increasingly descending into potential tragedy and farce. As an editorial in the Independent points out, the threat of deportation is driving refugees under ground, “into the twilight world of the ‘informal’ economy, characterised by criminality, forced labour and slum accommodation. Far from ‘breaking the business model’ model of people trafficking, the Rwanda plan may end up extending it as many more asylum seekers live in the UK as virtual slaves”.

Meanwhile, Rishi Sunak has refused to accept any asylum seekers from Ireland, unless France agrees to take back refugees who have arrived in the UK from there. Since Brexit, the UK has lost the right to return refugees to the first safe EU country they reached.