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Priti Patel today accused Channel migrants of “exploiting our country” as the Government launched a fresh attack on European judges.

The European Court of Human Rights effectively grounded a deportation flight to Rwanda last week just minutes before it was due to take off.

The chartered Boeing 767 was estimated to have cost £500,000 for a sortie which never took place.

It is now unclear whether the Home Office will try and get another plane airborne for the 4,000-mile journey to Kigali before the outcome of a High Court judicial review into the controversial policy due next month.

A Tory MP warned the Home Secretary the Channel crossings showed the Government did not control its frontiers.

Craig Tracey claimed: “When we delivered Brexit we made a promise to ‘take back control’ of our borders.

“That wasn’t just about ending free movement but also cracking down on small boat crossings across the Channel.”

More than 300 people made it to Britain after crossing the Dover Strait – the world’s busiest shipping lane – in small boats over the weekend, latest figures revealed.

The flight taking asylum seekers from the UK to Rwanda was grounded at the last minute after intervention of the European Court of Human Rights. ( Getty Images)

The Ministry of Defence confirmed seven boats were intercepted in the Channel and brought to shore.

On Saturday, 321 people were rescued, but there were no intercepted crossings and nobody brought to shore on Sunday.

Last week was the busiest week for Channel crossings in recent weeks, likely due to the warm weather and calm seas providing ideal weather conditions.

Some 1,512 people were brought to shore after their boats were intercepted.

Speaking at Home Office questions in the Commons, the Scottish nationalists’ home affairs spokesman Stuart McDonald suggested the Government wanted to “dump and offload” Channel migrants “thousands of miles away”.

Urging the Home Secretary to halt deportations to Rwanda until the judges’ ruling, he added: “Surely if she had one iota of respect for the ECHR and the importance of the Refugee Convention, she will confirm now that she will wait for the outcome of that hearing instead of gambling on another utterly reckless, degrading and expensive attempt at these removals.”

Immigration Minister Tom Pursglove said the Government was “determined to deliver” on the Rwanda policy.

Migrants wave and gesture as the arrive in port on Border Force boat Valiant after attempting the crossing of the English Channel from France on June 14, 2022 in Dover, England. ( Getty Images)

He added: “Despite the detailed deliberations and judgements received by the domestic courts that heard the case, the European Court of Human Rights’ out-of-hours judge has granted last-minute, interim measures.

“The Government is seeking greater transparency from the ECHR on reasons for their judgement.

“A full judicial review is expected to be heard in July.”

He claimed that every day the “partnership” with Rwanda “is not in operation” is “a day that people continue to risk their lives in the Channel”.

Mr Pursglove warned: “That is not acceptable, it’s not sustainable.”

Ms Patel insisted the policy “is absolutely about deterring those dangerous crossings and also deterring people smugglers”.

She added: “We are a generous country and to maintain that means we take action so that we can be fair to those that do come to our country but firm on those that quite frankly are exploiting our country.”

It comes as Prince Charles and Boris Johnson prepare to fly to Kigali for this week’s Commonwealth Heads of Government summit.

The gathering is expected to be overshadowed by the plan to send migrants to the east African country.

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