THE Government could send illegal migrants off to an overseas territory 4,000 miles away if its Rwanda policy fails.
Ascension Island is being considered again as a possible place to take migrants to before finding them a permanent destination.
The volcanic island, in the middle of the South Atlantic, had been previously considered as a location for processing asylum seekers.
Ministers considered its location as being remote enough to deter migrants crossing the English Channel in small boats.
The island, along with other overseas territories, is part of a range of “Plan B” options that have been discussed by ministers and officials in case the policy of sending migrants to Rwanda has to be dropped.
The government is also said to be in negotiations with at least five other countries over a similar deportation deal to the Rwanda one agreed last year, according to The Times.
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Under Boris Johnson’s administration, the Foreign Office had held advanced talks with six countries, including Rwanda, about a possible migration relocation scheme.
It is understood these included Ghana, Nigeria, Namibia, Morocco and Niger – which is currently caught up in a military coup – were involved.
The Rwanda scheme has been met by a series of legal challenges since it was first announced in April 2022.
The Court of Appeal ruled it unlawful in June due to deficiencies in the Rwandan asylum system.
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Ministers remain confident the Supreme Court will overrule that decision in a hearing which is expected to start in October.
Should the Supreme Court rule in the government’s favour, it would give the green light to flights taking off as early as January.
Officials though have been working on other plans to deal with the migrants that continue to cross the Channel in small boats.
Those plans could either replace the Rwanda scheme or work alongside it.
So far this year, more than 15,000 people have crossed from France to England in small boats, around 15 per cent lower than this time last year.
A senior government source told the paper: “It’s pragmatic to consider all options and it makes sense to draw up proposals to stop the boats that could work alongside our Rwanda policy.
“We’re still confident that our Rwanda scheme is lawful, but having alternative proposals on the table would provide us with a back-up if we’re frustrated legally.
“Voters would expect us to leave no stone unturned and that is the right and sensible thing to do.”
Previously, the Home Secretary Suella Braverman told The Mail on Sunday that “all options were on the table” should the Supreme Court rule against the government.
If migrants were sent to Ascension Island or another UK territory, they would not remain there permanently, so the government would have to find a permanent destination for them, which could include their home nation, a third country or Rwanda.
Under the new Illegal Migration Act, all migrants who enter the UK illegally would be barred from ever being able to claim asylum in the UK.
It’s unclear what their status would be while they are kept in overseas territories.
The Falkland Islands were previously considered as a possible location but was dropped as the islands were considered too politically sensitive due to the lives lost defending the territory against Argentina in the 1980s.
Think tanks and Conservative MPs have also suggested Alderney in the Channel Islands or sovereign base areas in Cyprus.
Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary, said: “They claimed they were going to do this years ago but it never got off the ground. This joins a long list of headline chasing announcements that are never delivered.
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“It’s time the home secretary got serious and did the hard graft to tackle the chaos in the asylum system after 13 years of Tory government.
"That includes cracking down on the criminal smuggling gangs and clearing the asylum backlog, as Labour has proposed.”
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