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Almost 45,000 migrants have entered UK since Rwanda deal was announced, analysis shows | Politics News

Nearly 45,000 people have arrived in the UK on small boats since the government signed its “world-first” deal to send asylum seekers to Rwanda, new analysis shows.

A review of government figures by the Press Association shows that since 1 January, almost 5,000 people have crossed the Channel into the UK, including more than 1,000 in the last week alone.

A year ago today, the government – then led by Boris Johnson – announced the deal with the east African nation. But 365 days on, no flights have taken off due to legal challenges lodged against the policy.

In November, it was confirmed the government had spent at least £140m on the programme so far. The first deportation flight was due to take off last June, but was grounded by a legal challenge from the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

The prime minister promised in January to end migrant Channel crossings when outlining his five priorities for his first year in office.

In an interview with ConservativeHome on Thursday, Rishi Sunak conceded his plan to stop small boats “won’t happen overnight” .

And when asked if he would achieve that by the next general election – widely expected to take place in 2024 – Mr Sunak appeared to dodge the question.

In lieu of the Rwanda plan, the government recently unveiled the Illegal Migration Bill, which is currently making its way through parliament.

The legislation includes a promise to “detain and swiftly remove” migrants and asylum seekers who enter the country illegally via the dangerous Channel crossings, and a pledge to cut the options to challenge or appeal deportation.

But critics have described the plans as “unworkable”, questioned whether they adhere to international human rights laws and raised concerns about how children will be treated.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “Our migration and economic development partnership will see people who come to the UK through dangerous and illegal routes relocated to Rwanda, where they will be given the opportunity to settle and rebuilt their lives.

“Rwanda is a safe and secure country and they stand ready to welcome and support refugees – provisions are in place for accommodation, education and employment, with an estimated capacity to relocate several thousands of people.

“We have a strong relationship with Rwanda and both sides are equally committed to delivering the policy and seeing people relocated as soon as possible.”

Half-term flights 42% more expensive than before pandemic, analysis shows | Travel News

Half-term flights are 42% more expensive on average than before the coronavirus pandemic, according to new analysis.

Consumer group Which? said the typical price of a one-way ticket for the week-long school holiday in October booked six months, three months and six weeks in advance was £212, compared with £150 for the same period in 2019.

Rising fuel costs, pent-up demand for travel and airport passenger caps are thought to be behind the increase.

Which? analysed prices from data company Skytra for flights from six of England’s busiest airports – Heathrow, Gatwick, Manchester, Stansted, Luton and Birmingham – to six popular destinations: Alicante, Antalya, Dubai, Dublin, Malaga and Tenerife.

The largest increase was seen on flights from Heathrow to Tenerife.

Passengers booking six weeks before departure paid an average of £262 more each way than in 2019 – adding £2,096 to the cost of a holiday for a family of four, Which? said.

Flights from Gatwick to Dublin booked at the same time increased from £42 in 2019 to £160 this year.

Read more:
Heathrow Airport passenger numbers improving but still below pre-pandemic levels
Tui reveals £63m hit from recent travel chaos

Guy Hobbs, editor of Which? Travel, said: “Travellers have had a torrid time this year and our analysis shows they’re paying through the nose for their trouble.

“With fares so high, it’s even more important that airports and airlines are held to account for the unacceptable disruption travellers have faced.

“The government should give the Civil Aviation Authority stronger powers so it can hit operators with heavy fines when they flout the rules.”

Nearly half of UK’s offshore wind capacity owned by state-owned foreign entities, analysis shows | Climate News

Nearly half of all the UK’s offshore wind capacity is owned by state-owned or majority state-owned foreign entities, according to new analysis exclusively shared with Sky News.

Denmark’s Orstead, which is majority owned by the Danish government, and Norway’s Equinor come top of the list of public entities with the largest stake in UK offshore wind power, at 20% and 9% respectively.

They are followed by state-owned organisations in Sweden, Italy, China and France, according to analysis by the Common Wealth think tank and provided exclusively to Sky News.

Common Wealth’s assessment of publicly available data from the Crown Estate, which owns and leases much of the seabed around this country, found that the UK is twelfth on the list, behind United Arab Emirates, Ireland, Germany, Japan and Malaysia.

In large part this is because the UK government only owns a small renewable energy company called Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult, which is focused on research and innovation and holds a tiny percentage of capacity.

Director of Common Wealth Matthew Laurence said: “Public ownership of renewable power is already widespread in the North Sea – it just benefits other countries.

“It is time we correct that by creating a UK green energy generator: it would roll out clean power infrastructure faster, fairer, and more affordably than the status quo.”

Common Wealth’s report added that in 2021 alone, £2.5bn of energy bills paid by UK consumers went to foreign state-owned entities.

It also found that of the 58% of UK offshore wind capacity owned by private businesses, just a third are headquartered in the UK.

The largest private owners are Germany’s RWE, Scotland’s SSE, and Spain’s Iberdrola.

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The Trades Union Congress has also called for what it referred to as a “public energy champion” that would invest excess profits from the generation of electricity to cut bills and insulate homes.

Clean energy and climate change will be a key theme of this week’s Labour Party conference, although Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has dropped plans to nationalise energy companies.

Prime Minister Liz Truss has spoken positively about wind and nuclear power but is resisting calls to expand a windfall tax on fossil fuel companies, has lifted a ban on fracking for shale gas in the UK, and is preparing to grant nearly 100 new licenses for drilling for oil and gas in the North Sea.

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