Daily Mail

Rwanda flights ‘by the summer’

Sunak vows to beat court hurdles and deport illegal boat migrants

- By Jason Groves, David Barrett and Martin Beckford

MIGRANT deportatio­n flights to Rwanda could begin by the summer, Rishi Sunak said yesterday.

The Prime Minister said he was confident the plan to send Channel migrants to Africa would clear any legal hurdles in the coming months.

He claimed the ‘uncapped’ scheme could eventually handle thousands of migrants, providing a vital deterrent to those seeking to cross the Channel illegally.

On a visit to a coastguard and Border Force control centre in Dover, he said: ‘We always said with Rwanda that we expected it to be challenged.

‘But we’re also confident in our case and you’ve seen that we’ve had a High Court ruling a little while ago that unequivoca­lly ruled in the Government’s favour.

‘As soon as we finished the UK legal proceeding­s, then we would look to start operationa­lising the Rwanda partnershi­p.’

Asked directly whether this could be as soon as the summer, he replied: ‘It could be. The Court of Appeal date is, I think, the end of April.

‘Obviously, it would take a little bit of time to come back. There’s a question then about the Supreme Court – whether it hears it – but as soon as the legal process is exhausted we aim to operationa­lise that partnershi­p.’

Mr Sunak contrasted his own plan with the lack of proposals from Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer. ‘I don’t think they have a plan when it comes to illegal migration that was evident from parliament today,’ he said. ‘Since I’ve been Prime Minister I’ve gripped this issue and we are starting to deliver on it.’

He acknowledg­ed that the new Illegal Migration Bill, published yesterday, was ‘tough’ but insisted it was ‘moral’ and would ‘get the job done’.

In a letter to MPs last night, Home Secretary Suella Braverman warned there was more than a 50 per cent chance the Bill would fall foul of the European Convention on Human Rights.

But Mr Sunak said he was confident the legislatio­n was compatible with internatio­nal law – and ducked questions about whether he would ultimately be prepared to quit the ECHR.

‘It is tough but it is necessary and it is fair. We are acting in accordance with internatio­nal law. That is what I and the Government and government lawyers believe,’ he added.

Mr Sunak will hold talks with Emmanuel Macron in Paris on Friday aimed at strengthen­ing cooperatio­n over the issue. Officials are not expecting the French president to commit to a returns agreement that would allow the UK to send Channel migrants back to France.

But they are optimistic about enhancing the joint policing of the Channel and stepping up co-ordinated action against the criminal gangs exploiting the trade.

As the Bill was unveiled yesterday, the Home Secretary said judges would be stripped of their powers to block Britain’s asylum laws. The European Court of Human Rights will be asked to stop using ‘deeply flawed’ powers that blocked the inaugural removal flight to Rwanda last year.

If they fail to agree, UK law will be changed so ministers can ignore the Strasbourg court’s attempts to intervene.

Writing exclusivel­y for the Mail today, Mrs Braverman says: ‘Our ability to control our borders cannot be a hostage to secretive hearings in foreign courts where

we have no opportunit­y to make our case or even appeal those decisions.’

The Bill will also see wide-ranging restrictio­ns placed on the way UK courts can hear appeals and judicial reviews in immigratio­n cases.

Ministers have long complained that attempts to remove foreign nationals face endless legal challenges, and the Bill sets ambitious targets to fast-track migrants out of Britain. All asylum claims lodged by irregular migrants – such as those who come across the Channel in small boats – will be ruled inadmissib­le as soon as they reach British shores.

They will be detained with no rights for bail or judicial review within the first 28 days.

The vast majority of migrants will then be required to lodge appeals ‘remotely’ from abroad, rather than in the UK.

Only children and the gravely ill will be able to stay in Britain while they make legal challenges. Modern slavery claims by illegal entrants will be disqualifi­ed on ‘public order’ grounds under the new proposals.

The Bill also expands the list of countries that are considered ‘safe’ – where migrants can be sent back – and specifical­ly names Rwanda.

Yesterday’s measures were immediatel­y condemned by refugee groups and lawyers.

The UN Refugee Agency said the package amounted to an asylum ban, claiming: ‘This would be a clear breach of the Refugee Convention and would undermine a longstandi­ng humanitari­an tradition of which the British people are rightly proud.’

One leading barrister predicted the policy would face legal challenge, as the Rwanda plan did.

Stephanie Harrison KC of Garden Court Chambers said: ‘It’s bound to end up in the courts because it is not stretching internatio­nal law, it’s breaching internatio­nal law.’

Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper attacked the plans in the Commons, saying: ‘This Bill isn’t a solution. It is a con that risks making the chaos even worse.’

Marley Morris, of the left-leaning IPPR think-tank, said the package was ‘unethical and impractica­l’.

Alp Mehmet, chairman of Migration Watch UK, which campaigns for tougher border controls, welcomed the Bill. But he added: ‘It is vital that it is not neutered as it makes its way through parliament.’

‘Tough, necessary and fair’

ILLEGAL immigratio­n poses one of the most serious threats to our society.

Yet for too long ministers have merely tinkered at the edges of the problem, rather than tackling it head on.

Such scandalous complacenc­y has emboldened tens of thousands of migrants to risk their lives crossing the Channel in dinghies in the expectatio­n that once on our shores they will be permitted to stay.

This has represente­d a colossal failure of both government policy and will. So it is good news – and not before time – that the Prime Minister and Home Secretary have unveiled a tough and uncompromi­sing deterrent to stop the tide of small boats.

By making the perilous journey from France pointless, the Illegal Migration Bill aims to destroy the business model used by ruthless people-traffickin­g gangs, who charge extortiona­te sums for places on dangerousl­y overcrowde­d craft.

Under the new law, the vast majority of illegal arrivals will be detained and deported, either to their home country or a safe third nation – with removals beginning as soon as this summer.

They will be denied asylum and barred from ever returning – a powerful disincenti­ve to set sail. Human rights and modern slavery loopholes exploited by lawyers will close.

And by seeking to clip the wings of the courts, the legislatio­n would firmly answer the question of who controls our borders – Parliament or unelected judges.

It is appalling that we still don’t know the identity or nationalit­y of the European Court of Human Rights judge who halted the Rwanda scheme at a secretive latenight hearing (despite that forum usually taking forever to make rulings).

Meanwhile the liberal Left, migration lobby and self-serving lawyers howled with fury at the crackdown. To listen to their hysterical ravings, you’d think Rishi Sunak had asked the Royal Navy to torpedo small boats.

Labour, as ever, has nothing useful to say. Sir Keir Starmer pays lip service to ending uncontroll­ed migration, then attacks every practical measure for doing so.

Britain will always be open to genuine asylum seekers fleeing war or tyranny. But what offends the public’s sense of justice is to see economic migrants cheat their way in. This is a security risk, a huge financial and social burden, and an insult to lawabiding refugees who follow the rules.

The Government faces an enormous battle to get the Bill through Parliament and the courts. But it must persevere and ignore the shrieks of alleged cruelty.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman sums it up perfectly on Page 9: ‘The British people are fair and generous. But their patience has run out.’

SO, THE shoulderpa­d is back. as someone who spent the 1980s with two small cushions stuffed under her bra straps, this news fills me with some trepidatio­n. In my experience, the things are extremely addictive: one minute you’re just jazzing up a t- shirt, the next you look like an american Footballer in drag — if one is allowed to say such things.

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 ?? ?? Scan to read Henry Deedes’ sketch at The Mail+
Scan to read Henry Deedes’ sketch at The Mail+
 ?? ?? Crossing: Boat migrants at Dunkirk. Inset: Rishi Sunak yesterday
Crossing: Boat migrants at Dunkirk. Inset: Rishi Sunak yesterday

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