Boris Johnson Urges Rishi Sunak To Change The Law To 'Get Rwanda Done'

Former prime minister makes intervention after plan to deport refugees to east African country was ruled unlawful.
Rishi Sunak and Boris Johnson last year.
Rishi Sunak and Boris Johnson last year.
POOL via Reuters

The former prime minister used his Daily Mail column to endorse plans to appeal the decision by judges – but also said it was now time to “change the law” to “get Rwanda done”, aping the phrase that helped Johnson win the 2019 general election.

On Thursday, the Court of Appeal said Sunak’s scheme to “stop the boats” should not go ahead.

It ruled Rwanda was not a safe third country for people seeking asylum in the UK to be sent.

The prime minister said he “fundamentally” disagreed with its decision, adding: “We will now seek permission to appeal this decision to the Supreme Court.”

But Johnson suggested going further, saying it was not for “judges in London” to determine Rwanda’s safety and instead change the law to define the east African country as safe.

Sunak’s predecessor wrote: “We always knew that it would be difficult, and when I launched the scheme on April 14 last year, I was explicit that it would take time, and that it would face many legal challenges and reverses.

“I also said that it might be necessary to take further steps and, if required, to change the law. The time has now come to do this.”

Sunak has pledged to stop overcrowded dinghies making the journey from northern France to the UK. More than 45,000 people arrived in Britain across the Channel in 2022, and several died in the attempt.

The UK and Rwandan governments agreed more than a year ago that some migrants who arrive in the UK would be sent to Rwanda, where their asylum claims would be processed. Those granted asylum would stay in the East African country rather than return to Britain.

The UK government argues that the policy will smash the business model of criminal gangs that ferry migrants on hazardous journeys across one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes.

Human rights groups say it is immoral and inhumane to send people more than 4,000 miles to a country they don’t want to live in, and argue that most Channel migrants are desperate people who have no authorised way to come to the UK. They also cite Rwanda’s poor human rights record, including allegations of torture and killings of government opponents.


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