THE UK Government has been branded “evil” and racist over plans to send asylum seekers who cross the Channel to Rwanda.

Home Secretary Priti Patel is expected to sign a deal with the East African nation during a visit on Thursday, with people seeking sanctuary in the UK to be sent more than 4000 miles for processing.

The proposals have been described as stomach churning, a “grubby cash-for-people plan” and “shockingly ill-conceived”.

Human rights groups have raised severe concerns over Rwanda’s human rights record, while one Tory MP suggested the announcement is an attempt to distract attention from the partygate scandal.

Scotland’s Health Secretary accused the UK Government of being “institutionally racist”.

He tweeted: “UK Govt rightly provides asylum and refuge to Ukrainians fleeing war, but wants to send others seeking asylum thousands of miles away to Rwanda for ‘processing’.

“And you still question whether this heartless Tory Govt is institutionally racist?”

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Under the plans, some of those who make the perilous crossing of the Channel, as well as by other means deemed “illegal” by the Government, would be sent to Rwanda while their claims are assessed “offshore”.

An initial £120 million is expected to be given to the Rwandan government under a trial scheme, which is being criticised by refugee charities as a “cruel and nasty decision” that will fail to address the issue and “lead to more human suffering and chaos”.

Asylum seekers who remain in the UK while their claims are considered could be housed in stricter reception centres under the plans. The first will reportedly open in the village of Linton-on-Ouse, in North Yorkshire.

Ian Blackford, the SNP’s Westminster leader, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “It’s just chilling, absolutely chilling, to think that people who are coming here for a whole host of reasons – vulnerable people – are going to be taken all the way to Africa to be processed.

“This is not the mark of a civilised society. It’s evil.

“It just turns my stomach to see that our government acting in our name can behave in such a way, and I think a lot of people are going to be quite aghast.”

The National: Ian Blackford

Human rights campaigners have described the Government’s plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda as “shockingly ill-conceived”.

Steve Valdez-Symonds, Amnesty International UK’s Refugee and Migrant Rights Director, added that the African nation had a “dismal human rights record”.

He said: “Sending people to another country – let alone one with such a dismal human rights record – for asylum ‘processing’ is the very height of irresponsibility and shows how far removed from humanity and reality the Government now is on asylum issues.

“The Government is already wrecking our asylum system at huge cost to the taxpayer while causing terrible anxiety to the people stuck in the backlogs it has created.”

“But this shockingly ill-conceived idea will go far further in inflicting suffering while wasting huge amounts of public money.”

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The chief executive of Refugee Action, Tim Naor Hilton, accused the Government of “offshoring its responsibilities onto Europe’s former colonies instead of doing our fair share to help some of the most vulnerable people on the planet”.

He added that the UK should have learnt from “Australia’s horrific experiment” of sending refugees “thousands of miles away” to camps where they experienced “rampant abuse” as well as “rape, murder and suicide”.

“This grubby cash-for-people plan would be a cowardly, barbaric and inhumane way to treat people fleeing persecution and war,” Naor Hilton said.

“Ministers seem too keen to ignore the reality that most people who cross the Channel in flimsy boats are refugees from countries where persecution and war are rife and who just want to live in safety.”

The Prime Minister is set to argue in a speech on Thursday that action is needed to combat the “vile people smugglers” turning the ocean into a “watery graveyard”.

The National: Boris Johnson

Patel is then expected to set out further details of a “migration and economic development partnership” with Rwanda, during a visit to the capital of Kigali.

It is thought the asylum seekers will be encouraged to relocate and rebuild their lives in Rwanda, rather than the UK, with more information on how the arrangement will work anticipated in the coming days.

But Conservative MP Tobias Ellwood described the plans as a “massive distraction” from the Prime Minister being fined over Downing Street parties.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, the chairman of the Commons Defence Committee said: “He’s trying to make an announcement today on migration, and all of this is a massive distraction.

“It’s not going away. It is a crisis. It requires crisis management. There needs to be a plan.

“Otherwise, we’re in drift mode, with potentially more resignations and more letters of concern. That isn’t where we want to go – it will then dominate the political agenda.”

Enver Solomon, chief executive of the Refugee Council, urged the Government to “immediately rethink its plans”.

“We are appalled by the Government’s cruel and nasty decision to send those seeking sanctuary in our country to Rwanda,” he said.

“Offshoring the UK’s asylum system will do absolutely nothing to address the reasons why people take perilous journeys to find safety in the UK “It will do little to deter them from coming to this country, but only lead to more human suffering and chaos – at a huge expense of an estimated £1.4 billion a year.”

But the Home Office questioned the figure, with a source saying it was “ludicrous to suggest costs would be more than the current system”.

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said the Government’s plans to send asylum seekers to Rwanda for processing are “unworkable, unethical and extortionate”.

The National: Labour MP Yvette Cooper (Joe Giddens/PA)

The expected deal with Rwanda comes after other locations touted – including Ascension Island, Albania and Gibraltar – were rejected, at times angrily by the nations suggested.

Peers could mount fresh resistance to the measure, having already inflicted a series of defeats to the Government’s Nationality and Borders Bill.

The legislation is currently in a tussle between the Commons and the Lords after peers defeated ministers, including with a demand that offshore asylum claims should be subject to approval by both Houses of Parliament.

Tory minister Simon Hart dismissed the criticism and claimed the relocation plan has the potential to be a “really humane step forward”.

Speaking to Sky News, the Welsh Secretary said: “I think the first thing is we have to deal with this problem. We have a very good relationship with Rwanda: It’s an up-and-coming economy, it has got a very good record with migrants in this particular issue.

“And it’s an arrangement which I think suits both countries very well and provides the best opportunities for economic migrants, for those who have been in the forefront of this particular appalling problem for so long now.

“And I think that this arrangement is a really… it has the potential to be a really good step forward and a really humane step forward.”

When pressed on the fact the president of Rwanda has been accused of human rights abuses on more than one occasion, Hart said: “That is true, but that doesn’t alter the fact that their reputation as far as migrants are concerned, and their economic progress, is phenomenal.”