Fifty migrants have been told they will be the first to be sent to Rwanda in east Africa as part of the government’s controversial resettlement policy.
In an interview with the Daily Mail, Boris Johnson revealed the figure, saying he expected a lot of legal opposition but insisted the government would “dig in for the fight”.
Under a new deal, people judged to have entered the UK illegally now face being flown to Rwanda for resettlement.
The policy has been widely criticised.
Among its critics are more than 160 charities, the Archbishop of Canterbury, opposition parties and senior Conservative Party backbenchers, including former Prime Minister Theresa May.
Together they have raised questions about the ethics, legality, cost and efficacy of the policy.
Aid agencies have reported several asylum seekers in the UK going into hiding because of fears they would be sent to Rwanda.
The threat of removal has also prompted some to self-harm, with one attempting suicide, the Red Cross and the Refugee Council said.