Cleverly ally slaps down claim he ‘blocked’ Rwanda scheme as Foreign Secretary

James Cleverly is attempting to slap down allegations he helped frustrate plans to deport migrants to Rwanda while Foreign Secretary.

This morning claims emerged that he “repeatedly blocked” efforts to create a backup plan in other third countries, such as the Falklands, Ascension Island or other African countries.

A Tory source, alleged to be close to Suella Braverman, told the Mail: “He threw obstacles in the way… he was refusing to look at it properly until the legal ruling on Rwanda had come back.

“The Foreign Office put forward a couple of South American countries as contenders but they were completely unsuitable”.

However Mr Cleverly’s spokesman issued a comprehensive rebuke of the claims, describing them as “at odds with reality”.

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The Home Secretary’s spokesman detailed that Mr Cleverly identified and spoke to countries that were interested “with the full intention of persuading them to meet with UK Home Official officials”.

“With some of the successful understandings secured with other countries, which are showing demonstrable results in stopping boats, the now Home Secretary leant in personally to get such agreements over the line.”

It’s a matter of public record that Mr Cleverly wrote to the UK’s ambassadors just last month, demanding they work even harder to help clamp down on migrant smuggling gangs.

At October’s Tory conference, he said: “I’ve written to all of our ambassadors, all of our high commissioners, and I’ve instructed each and every one of them to do even more work with the countries in which they represent the UK to help stop the abhorrent trafficking of human lives across the English Channel”.

The Home Secretary’s spokesman continued that Mr Cleverly “sees his job as focussing on doing the actual work alongside the PM to deliver the mission of stopping the boats and controlling our borders”.

“Others can spend time shouting criticism or whispering from the sidelines, but he has a job to get on with and that’s what he’s busy doing.”

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The Mail’s report claimed Mr Cleverly thwarted proposals to set up asylum processing centres on Ascension Island, Saint Helena or the Falkland Islands.

However even those on the right of the Tory party, including Lee Anderson, has conceded putting migrants on the Falkland Islands would be unfair on those living there.

The “source” added: “Cleverly just listened to ‘the Blob’ in the Foreign Office – the civil servants who are dead against doing anything robust to tackle the Channel problem”.

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However it appears the Government is trying to row back from Mr Cleverly’s downplaying of Rwanda in a recent interview with the Times.

On Saturday he said Rwanda is “not the be all and end all” of the Government’s efforts to end the migrant crisis.

In contrast, Chief Secretary to the Treasury Laura Trott said yesterday that the Rwanda plan is “central” to the PM’s efforts.

Former Cabinet Minister Nadine Dorries warned James Cleverly that briefings against him by shadowy Tory figures who brought down Boris Johnson and Liz Truss would start in earnest when he became Home Secretary.

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