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Reform UK's Ann Widdecombe has hit out at Rishi Sunak's defence of the Rwanda plan, as the Prime Minister was grilled once again on the country's surging migration numbers.

Sunak and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer were grilled in Sky News's The Battle for Number 10 debate by host Beth Rigby and audience members.

When pressed on how the Conservatives would continue to tackle both illegal migration, Sunak reaffirmed that their "clear plan" to deport migrants to Rwanda will "continue to bring the numbers down".

Sunak told Sky News: "What we've done is already started detaining people. Airfields are on standby, planes are booked. The date for the first flight is out on the 24th of July.

"And the important point here is about establishing a deterrent, because I believe that if people come here illegally, they shouldn't be able to stay. We need to have somewhere safe to remove them. And that's how we will stop the boats. And that's what Rwanda is about."

Although the Prime Minister's response was met with applause from the audience, Widdecombe criticised Sunak's defence of the policy and claimed the leader has "never had a plan B".

Discussing Sunak's response to his grilling on migration, Widdecombe told GB News: "We've been hearing about Rwanda for how long now, nearly two years. And it hasn't happened.

"What I object to is not that he's pursued the Rwanda plan, that's fine, but there's never been any plan B. So all the time that he's been pursuing and failing to deliver the Rwanda plan, thousands of illegal immigrants have been turning up on our shores almost daily."

Widdecombe also highlighted that "it's all well and good that he's booked the planes", but "the lawyers" and the ECHR that are his main factors blocking his plan.


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Host Patrick Christys then highlighted that those who are awaiting the flights to Rwanda have been "released on immigration bail" until the flights take off, and suggested it implies that "people behind the scenes do not think any flights are going to take off".

Widdecombe agreed, adding: "And how many of them will wait around for those flights? If they're released and they can go where they like, which they will, they're not going to wait for the flights.

"The real point is he's never got the scheme off the ground. There's no guarantee it's ever going to get off the ground. And yet he's done nothing else at all."

When pressed by Patrick on what Reform's deterrent for migrants, Widdecombe claimed that unlike the Tories, they "do have a plan B".

Widdecombe revealed: "The first thing we've got to do is to stop the flow of people coming here. So that's why we're putting an emphasis on stop the boats. We've got to stop that before we can start to clear up the mess that we've already got here.

"We do have a plan B if boats get through, and some will, that's just inevitable. We shall automatically detain people in secure reception centres, they won't be in hotels able to come and go."

She continued: "As far as those who are already here and you're quite right, the problem's been growing on an almost daily basis because of Rishi's failure to have any plan. Therefore, we are going to have to speed up the processes."

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