RATTLED James Cleverly today insisted a fresh Rwanda treaty will be done “in days” during a tetchy BBC bust-up.
The new Home Secretary said he was “absolutely determined” to get flights off before the next election despite the Supreme Court tearing the plan to shreds.
He also said he did not “recognise” claims that he once privately branded the migration policy as “bats***”.
Mr Cleverly was this morning grilled on Rishi Sunak’s Plan B, which involves signing a better deal with Kigali and introducing emergency legislation declaring the country safe.
He said the treaty – which will ensure no asylum seeker can be deported from Rwanda to a potentially unsafe place – within “matter of days”.
But there are fears even once ratified by MPs it will get bunged up in the Lords and the courts once again – putting paid to the PM’s hopes of getting flights by the spring.
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Former Supreme Court Justice Lord Sumption criticised the move to have a second crack as “constitutionally extraordinary”.
The remarks sparked an on-air clash between Mr Cleverly and BBC host Amol Rajan, who took the Cabinet Minister to task.
After Rajan cut into an answer, the exasperated Home Secretary said: “Are you asking questions or are you making statements? “Because if you're just going to make a statement I can go and get a cup of tea.”
Rajan shot back: “You're making statements, I'm trying to ask questions.'”
Mr Cleverly said: “I am here. I want to answer questions but you're making statements and then moving on without giving me an opportunity to address the statements that you make, a number of which I disagree with.”
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He was also forced on the defensive over Labour’s claims that he once described the Rwanda plan as “bats***” in unguarded comments.
Mr Cleverly said: “I don't recognise that phrase, and the point that I've made, and the point I made at the despatch box, is that the Rwanda scheme is an important part – but only a part – of the range of responses we have to illegal migration."
Mr Sunak yesterday admitted: “My patience has run thin as has the country’s” — after his Rwanda deportation scheme was blown up by the Supreme Court.
But he faced a massive Tory backlash and was warned his leadership is now on the line.
Other critics said the party was in an existential crisis if it did not stop the migrant boats.
Exasperated Mr Sunak told a hastily-arranged press conference: “I absolutely share the frustrations that my colleagues and indeed people across the country have about this issue.”
The controversial plan, announced by then-PM Boris Johnson in April 2022, has faced several court challenges and cost at least £140million.
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