The home secretary told heckling Labour politicians to “actually calm down and listen” during her ministerial address to the House of Commons today, before suggesting they were “not even listening” to her. Dismissing claims that her Rwanda policy was illegal, she then criticised Labour politicians of frequently trying to convince her not to deport people who “have no legal basis to remain in our country”.
Mrs Patel was responding to calls from Theresa May MP to explain the eligibility criteria for refugees claiming asylum in the UK.
The former prime minister asked whether the current policy would not “simply lead to an increase in the trafficking of women and children”.
Mrs Patel said that she was “very happy to meet with the right honourable lady to discuss this further” before being heckled by Labour backbenchers.
She then said: “No, actually calm down and listen”, before accusing members of the opposition of “not even listening” to her.
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Facing further shouting from across the room, she said: “If you’re interested in listening to responses then please do.”
“Now, I think the right honourable lady would respect the fact that I’m not going to come to the floor of the house and speak about the eligibility criteria.
“Because, actually, she will know it’s that type of criteria that is used by the smuggling gangs to effectively exploit loopholes in our existing laws.”
She added: “There are many members opposite me who write letters to ask me not to remove some of the failed asylum seekers and foreign national offenders, people who actually have no legal basis to remain in our country.”
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During her address today, former Tory cabinet minister David Davis questioned the financial reality of the deal and asked how Mrs Patel would “protect the British taxpayer”.
The concerns come as Labour politicians, such as shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper, claimed the bill would be in the tens of billions, far higher than the £120 million given to Rwanda thus far.
Mr Davis asked how the government would mitigate against the costs of asylum seekers falling ill in Rwanda, which has some of the highest incidences of malaria in the world.
Mrs Patel said: “The work that we’ve undertaken and the partnership with the Rwandan government [includes] providing care in terms of the health and resettlement needs of those individuals.’