Politics

Home Secretary James Cleverly used a private chartered flight to visit Rwanda at a cost of £165,561.53 to the taxpayer, government documents have revealed.

The latest transparency data from the Home Office showed Mr Cleverly took the flight in December last year as he headed to Kigali to sign a new treaty with the African nation around the government’s asylum seeker deportation plan.

According to the document, 14 people were onboard the plane, with the Guardian reporting they included members of his private office, a small team of civil servants, a photographer and a BBC TV crew.

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The price of the trip has surfaced as the government continues to clash with the House of Lords to get its Rwanda plan put into law.

Last year, the UK Supreme Court ruled that the policy – which would see people arriving in the UK illegally deported to the country – was “unlawful” as asylum seekers would be at “real risk” of being sent home to their countries of origin.

But Prime Minister Rishi Sunak came up with a plan to revive the scheme, including the signing of a new treaty to put into writing commitments from Rwanda over the safety of those deported there.

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Home secretary arrives in Rwanda to sign new treaty

He faced a backlash from his own party when the bill came to the Commons, with many on the right wanting to toughen up the legislation and others from the more centrist wing of the Tories concerned it went too far.

But despite winning that battle, Mr Sunak remains at war with peers, who are seeking to amend the legislation before giving it the go-ahead.

The bill had been expected to return to MPs next week, but Number 10 has delayed a further vote until after Easter – despite the government still being keen to get the flights off the ground in the spring.

Sky News has contacted the Home Office and Mr Cleverly for a response.

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