Boris Johnson's Ex-Wife Slams 'Damaging' Effect Of Rwanda Act

The plan to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda was first proposed under the former PM.
Boris Johnson and his ex-wife Marina Wheeler
Boris Johnson and his ex-wife Marina Wheeler
Getty/Channel 4 News

Boris Johnson’s ex-wife has cast serious doubt on one of his flagship policies, the controversial plan to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda.

The Conservative government, now led by Rishi Sunak, pushed to get the Rwanda bill passed into law – but it comes with major risks.

Marina Wheeler KC – currently a workplace harassment adviser to Labour – said on Tuesday that the ongoing legal challenges to the scheme are “of concern”.

Channel 4 News’ Cathy Newman asked the barrister if the government’s decision to ignore the courts’ fears around the act damaged the UK’s “reputation of legal probity”.

Wheeler said she still thinks the country is a “beacon of legal probity”, but added: “The new [Rwanda] act doesn’t abide by the Supreme Court’s rulings, and I think that is very damaging.

“An act that says we should ignore the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights is also very damaging.”

The ECHR declared the deportation plan was unlawful in June 2022, and said British judges needed to examine the arguments against it more thoroughly.

That meant the first flight meant to take refugees to the African country never took off.

Then the UK Supreme Court ruled it was unlawful, too.

The only way Sunak has ever managed to work around this was to tell civil servants to ignore European court judges.

Johnson actually urged Sunak to override the court in 2023, claiming it was not for “judges in London” to determine if Rwanda was safe.

He called for the government to change the law and decla the African country a safe place so the scheme could go ahead.

However, his ex-wife clearly did agree with Johnson’s more relaxed approach to the law.

She added that while she understands the Brexit proceedings were “painful”, she still believes they showed the legal “system working admirably” – unlike the way the government has approached the Rwanda Act.

But, Wheeler refused to say who she would be voting for in the upcoming general election, but acknowledged that the “polls aren’t looking very good” right now.

She said: “Me, personally, I certainly never pretended to be a Conservative.

“But I think that Labour does sound like it’s got energy there.”

Wheeler also admitted that she was once a member of the Labour Party “back in the day” and that she has “never been a Conservative Party conference in my whole entire life”.

When questioned about her thoughts on the possibility of Johnson returning to frontline politics, Wheeler laughed and said: “I actually don’t have a view on that one.”

Wheeler separated from the ex-prime minister in 2018 and officially divorced in 2020.

When Johnson was elected as PM in 2019, he moved into Downing Street with his then-girlfriend Carrie Symonds. They wed in 2021, and now have three children together.

He was ousted by his own MPs in the summer of 2022 and resigned as an MP in June last year.


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