Hammer Blow For Rishi Sunak As Government's Rwanda Plan Ruled Illegal

The prime minister's pledge to "stop the boats" is in tatters.
Rishi Sunak has been dealt another huge blow.
Rishi Sunak has been dealt another huge blow.
DARREN STAPLES via Getty Images

Rishi Sunak has been dealt a hammer blow after the Supreme Court unanimously ruled the government’s plan to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda is illegal.

It comes after Suella Braverman savaged the prime minister, accusing him of ignoring her advice to prepare a “Plan B” should the scheme be blocked by judges.

The prime minister said it was “not the outcome we wanted” but insisted the government remained “completely committed to stopping the boats”.

But he will now have to come up with another plan to cut asylum claims.

The flagship policy - first announced when Boris Johnson was still PM last year - was a key plank of Sunak’s pledge to “stop the boats” carrying asylum seekers across the English Channel.

Under the plan, people arriving in the UK by the route would be deported to Rwanda. The government hoped this would deter others from attempting to make the crossing.

But it has been bogged down in legal challenges from campaign groups who warned Rwanda is not a safe third country for people to be sent. The multiple court cases have meant no deportation flights have been able to take off.

And the Supreme Court agreed on Wednesday it was unlawful, ruling there was a real risk of people deported to Rwanda from the UK being sent back to their home county where they faced persecution.

Sunak is likely to come under intense pressure from right-wing Tory MPs to pull the UK out of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) in order to implement the plan.

But new home secretary James Cleverly recently said he was “not convinced” that was a good idea.

And its judgement, the Supreme Court said it was not just membership of the ECHR which blocked the plan.

“There are other international treaties which also prohibit the return of asylum seekers to their countries of origin without a proper examination of their claims,′ it said.

Braverman, who was sacked as home secretary by Sunak on Monday, had made no secret of her desire to leave the convention.

Last night in a lengthy letter attacking Sunak, the former home secretary said she had warned it was likely the Supreme Court would strike down the law.

“Your magical thinking — believing that you can will your way through this without upsetting polite opinion — has meant you have failed to prepare any sort of credible ‘Plan B’,” she said.

“I wrote to you on multiple occasions setting out what a credible Plan B would entail, and making clear that unless you pursue these proposals, in the event of defeat, there is no hope of flights this side of an election. I received no reply from you.”

She added: “You opted instead for wishful thinking as a comfort blanket to avoid having to make hard choices.”

Sonya Sceats, chief executive at Freedom from Torture said: “This is a victory for reason and compassion. We are delighted that the Supreme Court has affirmed what caring people already knew: the UK Government’s ‘cash for humans’ deal with Rwanda is not only deeply immoral, but it also flies in the face of the laws of this country.”

Lib Dem home affairs spokesperson Alistair Carmichael said: ‘It was clear from the get-go that the Conservatives’ Rwanda scheme was destined to fail. Not only is it immoral, unworkable and incredibly costly for taxpayers - but the Supreme Court has confirmed that it’s unlawful too.”


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