PRITI Patel has challenged critics of her plan to send unauthorised asylum seekers on a one-way trip to Rwanda to come up with a better one.

The Home Secretary said those institutions opposed to the scheme had failed “to offer their own solutions”.

In a joint newspaper with Rwandan foreign affairs minister Vincent Biruta, Ms Patel insisted her response to the surge in migrants crossing the Channel was “bold and innovative”. 

Her comments come on the back of widespread and scathing criticism of the deal between London and Kigali to deport single adult asylum seekers 4,000 miles to east Africa.

They would be able to apply for asylum in Rwanda, but not the UK.

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby used his Easter sermon yesterday to describe the scheme as “subcontracting out our responsibilities”, calling it “the opposite of the nature of God who himself took responsibility for our failures”.

The United Nations has also called the policy “unacceptable” and a breach of international law, while charities and campaign groups have described it as “shamefully cruel”.

The Home Office’s own top official also questioned whether it would have the desired deterrent effect and be value for money, forcing Ms Patel to issue a rare ministerial direction ordering her department to proceed, despite a lack of evidence the scheme would work.

In her article in the Times, the Home Secretary defended the plan as a way of tackling the people traffickers who send migrants across the Channel in a “deadly trade”.

She and Mr Biruta wrote: “The UK and Rwanda stand together in their efforts towards promoting a new, fairer and more effective global asylum system, which deters criminality, exploitation and abuse.

“We are taking bold and innovative steps and it’s surprising that those institutions that criticise the plans, fail to offer their own solutions.”

In media interviews this morning, UK energy minister Greg Hands also rejected the Archbishop’s accusation that the UK was outsourcing its responsibilities.

He told Sky News: “No, we’re not. This is an agreement between two sovereign countries, the UK and Rwanda. I think what others, the critics of this plan, need to do is to show what their solution would be.”

Mr Hands said sending migrants to Rwanda will act as a “significant deterrent” to people deemed to be entering the UK illegally.

Asked when he expects to see the results of the policy, amid suggestions even within the Home Office that it will not work, he told Times Radio: “We think that it will work and we are confident that it will work.

“We need to be sending that message now – that crossing the Channel illegally isn’t necessarily going to lead to the person being located in the UK.

“So the relocation to Rwanda is there – it will act as a significant deterrent, we think, to people making that journey. And (it) will ultimately be at the cost of the people smugglers who… we want to put out of business.”

An exchange of letters published by the Home Office on Saturday night showed the department’s permanent secretary Matthew Rycroft warned Ms Patel that although the policy was “regular, proper and feasible”, there was “uncertainty surrounding the value for money of the proposal”.

Issuing a ministerial direction to push ahead regardless, the Home Secretary said: “Without action, costs will continue to rise, lives will continue to be lost.”

Labour’s shadow policing minister Sarah Jones said it was “madness” to expect migrants to stay in Rwanda after they try to reach the UK, and claimed the Government was merely “moving” the people-smuggling problem rather than “fixing” it.

She told Times Radio: “The Government hasn’t even said how much this is going to cost – the £120 million is just an upfront payment to the Rwandan government. The actual admin of the scheme, they don’t even know how much that’s going to cost.

“Sending people 4,000 miles before they’ve made a claim and expecting them to stay in a country they don’t want to be in is madness.

“We are just moving the people-smuggling problem, we are not fixing it, which is what the Government claims to try and do.”