LONDON (Reuters) - "No ifs, no buts. These flights are going to Rwanda," British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said on Monday, about his flagship plan to send asylum seekers to the east African nation, which has faced a protracted battle in parliament.

Sunak promised that parliament would pass legislation seen by the government as crucial to overcoming existing legal barriers to the scheme, under which the government wants to start sending asylum seekers arriving illegally in Britain to Rwanda to have their claims processed.

Facing an election later this year that he is widely expected to lose, Sunak is hoping for a popularity boost by getting flights to Rwanda started as soon as possible to try to meet his pledge to "stop the boats" crossing to Britain.

(Reporting by Elizabeth Piper and Sarah Young; Writing by Sachin Ravikumar; editing by William James)