Rishi Sunak says migrants going to Ireland shows Rwanda scheme is working as a deterrent

Migrants travelling to Ireland after arriving in the UK on small boats is a sign the Rwanda scheme is already working as a deterrent, Rishi Sunak has said. 

Sky News's Trevor Phillips asked the prime minister if migrants finding their way to Ireland was a sign the UK was "exporting the problem".

Ireland's deputy prime minister Micheal Martin said on Friday the threat of being deported to Rwanda had caused an influx of migrants to cross the border from Northern Ireland into the Republic.

In his interview - which will air in full on Sky's Sunday Morning With Trevor Phillips show tomorrow at 8.30am - Mr Sunak was asked about the comments, saying they illustrated "the deterrent is... already having an impact".

"People are worried about coming here and that demonstrates exactly what I'm saying," he said. "If people come to our country illegally, but know that they won't be able to stay there, they are much less likely to come, and that's why the Rwanda scheme is so important."

Downing Street on Friday rebuffed claims the Rwanda plan was already influencing movements into Ireland, saying it was too early to jump to conclusions on its impact.

Mr Sunak said the comments also illustrate "that illegal migration is a global challenge".

"[That] is why you're seeing multiple countries talk about doing third country partnerships, looking at novel ways to solve this problem, and I believe will follow where the UK has led," he said.

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Mr Martin told The Daily Telegraph that the policy was already affecting Ireland, as people were "fearful" of staying in the UK.

Ireland's deputy prime minister said: "Maybe that's the impact it was designed to have."

Mr Martin, who is also Ireland's foreign minister, said asylum seekers were looking "to get sanctuary here and within the European Union as opposed to the potential of being deported to Rwanda".

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His comments came after Ireland's justice minister told a committee of the Irish Parliament she estimates more than 80% of migrants in the Republic had crossed from Northern Ireland.

The UK's prime minister told Trevor Phillips his focus "is on the United Kingdom and securing our border".

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Sunak staking premiership on Rwanda flights plan

The Safety of Rwanda Bill became an Act on Thursday, with Number 10 announcing the same day that the first deportation plane had been booked.

After a number of setbacks and delays, the bill passed in parliament earlier this week and then received royal assent, with Home Secretary James Cleverly hailing the approval as a "landmark moment in our plan to stop the boats".

Anticipating the bill's passage, the prime minister earlier this week promised the first flights would take off in 10 to 12 weeks - "come what may".

Watch the full interview on Sunday Morning with Trevor Phillips at 8.30am