The controversial plan to fly thousands of asylum seekers from Britain to Rwanda may never get off the ground, after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said on Thursday that there would be no deportations before a national election in July.

After taking office in October 2022, Sunak made the plan to send migrants who arrived in Britain without permission to the East African nation one of his flagship policies, saying it would put an end to thousands of asylum seekers coming on small boats across the Channel.

In April, Sunak promised the first flights would take off in the next 10 to 12 weeks, after Parliament finally passed a law designed to get around legal obstacles that had held up the plan for more than two years.