Troops could be forced to fly refugees to Rwanda under the deportation plan

British troops could be ordered to help carry out deportation flights of migrants to Rwanda after the government left the door open to the use of the armed forces in the asylum programme.

Ministers hope to start flights within weeks after Rwanda’s Security Law – which aims to overcome previous legal objections to the policy – becomes law, which is expected to happen within days.

But they have not yet confirmed whether the government will use charter planes leased from commercial airlines or call on the RAF.

The government has also resisted pressure to exempt refugees who previously worked for the British military from deportation to Rwanda if they enter Britain illegally.

Richard Foord, the Liberal Democrats’ defense spokesman, has called on Defense Secretary Grant Shapps to ensure that individual members of the armed forces are not ordered to take part in the plan.

He wrote in a letter: “This latest news concerns those who serve and former RAF service personnel who may be ordered to break trust with those they served alongside. I categorically ask you to rule out the prospect of military personnel being forced to take part in deportation flights. They serve no military purpose. The government must show our service members and veterans the respect they deserve.”

Mr. Foord told it i: “A government that respects the military alliance would never order our service members to betray the trust of those who served with us. It is an insult to use our armed forces in this way. I call on the government to be transparent about its plans; it is the least the men and women who have served in our armed forces deserve.”

The Defense Ministry declined to comment on whether troops could be ordered to assist with the deportation flights. When asked about the issue last week, Mr Shapps said: “We will do whatever it takes to ensure we can operate these flights, whether they are charter flights or other types of flights.”

The House of Commons and House of Lords are at odds over a proposed change to the bill which would say anyone who has worked abroad with the armed forces and then entered Britain illegally cannot be sent to Rwanda .

Government sources said there were already “safe and legal routes” for such people to claim asylum in Britain without having to use illegal methods of entering the country, such as crossing the English Channel in a small boat . They also warned that introducing exemptions to the deportation scheme would undermine its effectiveness as a deterrent for those considering traveling to Britain.

Rishi Sunak has scrapped an earlier promise to restart flights by the end of spring, after repeated delays linked to the Safety of Rwanda Act.