The foreign secretary has defended the UK Government’s plans to send asylum seekers to Rwanda, insisting it is a “completely legal” and “completely moral” policy.
It comes ahead of the first flight – expected to have about seven people on board – embarking from London Stansted Airport on Tuesday evening.
Campaigners and lawyers have sought to halt the flight, but have so far been unsuccessful.
The UK Cabinet secretary, Liz Truss, has though said that the scheme is both legal and “value for money”.
It is despite being unable to “put a figure” on the expense of the charter flight, but did not deny that it could cost around £250,000.
“We are expecting to send the flight later today,” the foreign secretary said on Tuesday morning.
“I can’t say exactly how many people will be on the flight but the really important thing is we establish the principle and we start to break the business model of these appalling people traffickers who are trading in misery.”
Asked if there could be no-one on the flight, she said: “There will be people on the flight and if they are not on this flight they will be on the next flight.”
Truss also rejected criticism from the archbishops of Canterbury and York who described the plan as “immoral” and stated that it “shames Britain”.
“The people who are immoral in this case are the people traffickers trading in human misery,” Truss said.
“Those people need to suggest an alternative policy that will work. Our policy is completely legal, it’s completely moral.”
The foreign secretary also insisted that the flight will take off no matter how many people are on board.
The Scottish Refugee Council described the scheme as “horrifying” as they warned of the distress it is causing.
In a statement, they said: “Seeking asylum is not a crime, we can’t stress this enough.
“Everything about the Rwanda scheme is horrifying and, as the UN’s Refugee agency says, in breach of international law.
“These plans are causing a lot of distress for the people we work with. This is state sanctioned violence in action.
“Everybody deserves to have their asylum claim assessed fairly, in the country to which they are applying for protection.
“Outsourcing the entire system and our international obligations is a complete dereliction of duty by the UK Government.
“A truly global Britain would play a leading role in international protection, and create a fair and efficient asylum system.”