Ministers are drawing up proposals to send Channel migrants to Ascension Island if the Rwanda policy fails.
As part of a radical ‘Plan B’, believed to be in its very early stages, illegal migrants would be transferred 4,000 miles to the British Overseas Territory in the South Atlantic.
As a further fallback, up to five other countries – all believed to be in Africa – are in negotiations with the Home Office to take those who arrive in small boats or in the back of lorries under schemes similar to the deal with Kigali
The number of small boat migrants to have arrived in Britain so far this year has topped 15,000, with more expected in the coming days as the weather improves.
Home Office ministers have yet to rule which back-up plan is the most likely option for development in the event of the Rwanda scheme being ultimately blocked, the Daily Mail understands.
The £140million agreement with Kigali was declared unlawful on human rights grounds by the Court of Appeal in June. Under the deal, Channel migrants and other irregular arrivals will be sent to the Rwandan capital to claim asylum there rather than here.
Although ministers are ‘confident’ the Supreme Court will side with them and overturn the ruling in October, the Home Office is devising a range of options in case the deal has to be ditched.
A senior government source said: ‘We’re duty bound to cover all possibilities and so, as you’d expect, this Conservative Government is working on plans to stop the boats which would run in conjunction with Rwanda.
‘Alternatively other plans could be used if we’re frustrated legally on our relocation scheme, even though we are confident it is lawful and await the Supreme Court judgment.
‘This is the right and sensible thing to do – and it’s what our voters would expect of us.’
The development came after Home Secretary Suella Braverman told The Mail on Sunday yesterday that ‘all options were on the table’ if the Rwanda project is unable to proceed.
Because Ascension Island is British soil, it is hoped it would remove some of the legal difficulties involved in deporting migrants to a foreign state.