Rishi Sunak dodged repeated questions on the whereabouts of thousands of people earmarked for removal to Rwanda.

During Prime Minister’s Questions, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer told MPs that of the 5,000 migrants due to be flown to the East African country, the government had "lost contact with 85%."

He asked the Conservative leader if he had “found them yet?”

Mr Sunak said the UK Government’s actions had reduced “the number of people coming here by over a third last year, removed over 20,000 people from this country back to their home countries, carried out 70% more illegal enforcement raids, arrested hundreds of people, closed down thousands of bank accounts and processed over 100,000 cases, the biggest number in over 20 years.”

He added: “That’s because on this side of the House we want to stop the boats, we have a plan, it’s working, and with him we would just go back to square one.”

Sir Keir raised the missing people again. “My first thought is how do you actually lose 4,250 people?” he asked.

“Suddenly you’re reminded that, of course, this farce of a Government could lose the people it was planning to remove," he added.

“He doesn’t actually care about solving this problem,” Mr Sunak replied, adding: “He doesn’t have a plan.”

The clash comes ahead of a crunch vote on the policy, with some of the Prime Minister's backbenchers set to rebel. 

READ MORE: Tories in turmoil: Sunak seeks to appease rebels ahead of Rwanda vote

Sir Keir Starmer asked again about the missing asylum seekers. “Spending £400 million on a plan not to get anybody to Rwanda whilst losing 4,000 people is not a plan, it’s a farce. Only this Government can waste hundreds of millions of pounds on a removals policy that doesn’t remove anyone.

“Only this Government could claim that it’s going to get flights off the ground only to discover they couldn’t find a plane. Only this Government could sign a removal deal with Rwanda only to end up taking people from Rwanda to here.

“But he still hasn’t answered the question. So I’ll try again: what progress has he made in locating the 4,250 people his Government has apparently lost? He’s dodged it three times, where are they?”

Mr Sunak defended the Government’s record on immigration before adding: “It’s a bit rich to hear him in here pretending that he cares about how we actually stop the boats when he’s been crystal clear and said that even if the plan is working to reduce the numbers, he would still scrap it.

“It’s because he has no values, no conviction and no plan, and it’s back to square one.”

Sir Keir countered: “He hasn’t got a clue where they are, has he? I can tell you one place they aren’t and that’s Rwanda because the only thing they’ve sent to Rwanda is Cabinet ministers.”

READ MORE: Rishi Sunak faces Rwanda vote revolt after key resignations

The SNP’s Stephen Flynn also raised the Tory turmoil over Rwanda.

He said: “When it comes to the Rwanda bill, the reality is that if you want to stop the smuggler gangs, you should introduce safe and legal routes.

"But instead, the Prime Minister’s seeking to weaponise some of the most vulnerable people in society. It is straight out of the cruel and callous right-wing extremist playbook.

“His time in office is fast approaching its conclusion. Does he seriously want this to be his legacy?"

Mr Sunak insisted that his scheme was “fair and compassionate.”

He told MPs: “It's not right that some people jump the queue. That they take away our resources to help those who are the most compassionate, that need our most help, and are exploited by gangs.

“And many of them lose their lives making these dangerous crossings. So I completely disagree with the honourable gentleman. The fair and the compassionate thing to do is to break these criminal gangs and that's why we're going to stop the boats.”

READ MORE: Lee Anderson resigns as Tory deputy chair over Rwanda plan

The SNP’s Patrick Grady asked the Prime Minister what it was “about the prospect of deportation to Rwanda that makes the government think it will be such a deterrent to asylum seekers.”

Mr Sunak told the MP that there was nothing wrong with the country, “It's just that it's not the United Kingdom.”

He added that deterrents work.