Politics Explained

What is a ‘ministerial direction’ and why did Priti Patel issue one over Rwanda policy?

Patel used the instruction, which has only been used twice at the Home Office since 1990, writes Ashley Cowburn

Saturday 16 April 2022 21:30 BST
(Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Just 11 days before Priti Patel unveiled her multi-million-pound proposal to send some asylum seekers to Rwanda for processing, one minister in her department made clear he was left in the dark.

Asked to justify the idea − before the formal unwrapping of the policy − the newly appointed refugees minister, Richard Harrington, appeared visibly puzzled as he asked on LBC if it was a rumour.

“If it’s happening in the Home Office, on the same corridor that I’m in, they haven’t told me about it,” Mr Harrington, who was drafted into No 10 by Boris Johnson during the Ukraine refugee crisis, said. “I’m having difficulty enough getting them from Ukraine to our country − there’s no possibility of sending them to Rwanda,” he insisted.

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