PRITI Patel has accused her opponents of “xenophobia” over their criticisms of her plans to send refugees to Rwanda.

The Home Secretary faced accusations that the policy – which will see Britain exchange asylum seekers with the Central African countries for development funds – is “unworkable, unethical and extortionate”.

Defending the UK’s record on the treatment of refugees, Patel said: “This Government has done more than any other in recent history to support those fleeing persecution, conflict or instability.”

Stuart McDonald, the SNP’s home affairs spokesperson, asked Patel why women and children would fall within the scope of the policy after she refused to confirm exact details of who would be included.

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She hit back by questioning McDonald's "tone" after he also raised concerns about the UK Government’s ability to ensure the safety of refugees after flying them thousands miles away.

And she accused some critics of adopting a “xenophobic” tone in their criticisms of the plans.

McDonald said: “Why aren’t we allowed to see the criteria for deciding who will be sent?

“How will she monitor their treatment? [The UK Government] has completely failed to stop abuses in UK detention centres, never mind centres that are 5000 miles away.

“This disastrous policy has nothing to do with the global migration crisis, it has everything to do with distracting from the PM’s political crises and it is absolutely sickening.”

She described his “latter comment” as “absolutely unacceptable”, claiming he had “done a great disservice, not just to this government and officials that have worked for more than nine months on this partnership but also to our counterparts in the world and Rwanda.”

She added: “Rwanda actually is home to resettling over 130,000 and they have done that successfully and if I may, I think your comments are a slur against the successful efforts of our partners in Rwanda.

“I think members should just listen to the undercurrent of their tone towards the country of Rwanda, which has done a great deal to provide safety and refuge and security and a new life to many refugees around the world.

“Rwanda is beholden to the same legal obligations as the United Kingdom on human rights and, if I may, I just want to make the point again; I think there is something really, really quite unpleasant about the undercurrent of the tone that is taken to the Rwandan policy.”

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The Home Secretary faced fury in the Commons on Tuesday over the plans which were unveiled last week.

Labour’s shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper accused the Tories of obscuring the true costs of the scheme. She said: “There is no information from the Home Secretary about the costs today. Will she admit the £120 million she has announced doesn’t pay for a single person to be transferred.

“She hasn’t actually got an agreement on the price for each person. In fact, the £120m is the eyewatering price the Home Office is paying just for a press release.”

Cooper added: “So, what’s the rest of the cost? What is this year’s budget? How many people will it cover? The Home Office has briefed it might be £30,000 per person to cover up to three months’ accommodation, but that is already three times more than the ordinary cost of dealing with asylum cases in the UK. And her statement says she is going to provide five years of costs.”

Patel hit back at Labour’s criticism, saying it was Tony Blair’s government that gave them the powers on which the Rwanda plan is based.