British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has defended his government’s plan to electronically tag some asylum-seekers who enter the UK on boats or trucks.
Johnson said it is essential that asylum-seekers who enter Britain “illegally” and break the law cannot not simply “vanish” into the rest of the country.
“This is a very, very generous welcoming country. Quite right too. I am proud of it, but when people come here illegally, when they break the law, it is important that we make that distinction,” he said on Saturday, speaking at RAF Brize Norton after returning from a trip to Kiev, Ukraine.
Johnson linked the tagging of asylum-seekers to the plan to deport them to East Africa.
“That is what we are doing with our Rwanda policy. That is what we are doing with making sure that asylum-seekers can’t just vanish into the rest of the country.”
Johnson’s comments came after the first flight scheduled to take asylum-seekers to the East African state was blocked due to a European court order.
The premier called the order a “weird last minute hiccup,” telling reporters that he was confident of the legality of the plan.
“Every single court in this country said there was no obstacle that they could see, no court in this country ruled the policy unlawful which was very, very encouraging,” Johnson said.
“There was this weird last-minute hiccup we had with Strasbourg. Let’s see where we get with that. We are very confident in the legality, the lawfulness of what we are doing and we are going to pursue the policy.”
The Rwanda Asylum Plan, announced by the UK government in April, sees some asylum-seekers, who cross the Channel to the UK, given a one-way ticket to Rwanda to claim asylum there instead.
However, human rights advocates have described the measures, which could affect refugees crossing the English Channel, as “draconian”.