Rishi’s plan to get planes in air echoes Boris scheme
A THREE-PRONGED strategy to end the ‘merry-go-round’ of legal challenges against the Rwanda deal was revealed by Rishi Sunak yesterday.
His series of measures will seek to stop the Rwanda programme being blocked by judges in the wake of yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling which declared it unlawful.
The Prime Minister announced ‘emergency, extraordinary legislation’ which will declare Rwanda a safe country. The law changes will work in conjunction with a new treaty with Rwanda which will aim to iron out all the Supreme Court’s objections.
The PM’s package, described by government insiders as a ‘parliamentary trump card’, mirrors proposals set out by former PM Boris Johnson in his Daily Mail column nearly five months ago – and which were scoffed at by those in the corridors of power.
Mr Johnson – who oversaw the launch of the flagship immigration policy last year – urged the Government to ‘change the law... immediately’ and ‘get Rwanda done’.
A Johnson ally said last night: ‘He [Mr Sunak] should have done it months ago, he should have got the Bill ready – then he might have had a chance of starting flights before the election.’
Yesterday Mr Sunak said a new emergency Bill will ‘ensure that people cannot further delay flights by bringing systemic challenges in our domestic courts and stop our policy being repeatedly blocked’.
Full details have not yet been revealed but it is understood the law will specifically set out that Rwanda is a ‘safe third country’, so that removal flights can take place.
In a third element of Mr Sunak’s plan, he said he will no longer allow European judges in Strasbourg to throw a spanner in the works.
The European Court of Human Rights issued an interim injunction last June when a plane for Rwanda was already on the tarmac, blocking its take-off .
The treaty will set out that no migrant sent from Britain to Rwanda can later be removed to another country.
This move, it is hoped, would overcome the main objection set out in the Supreme Court ruling yesterday.
A panel of five justices said under the existing Rwanda scheme there is a risk migrants could be refused refugee status there, and ultimately be returned to their country of origin or another nation where they could face harm.
The new treaty would ‘eliminate’ that risk with a ‘clear stipulation that noone can be removed’, sources said, and legally bind the Rwandan government under international law.
If any migrant sent from Britain to Kigali is refused asylum they will be given ‘lawful status’ to remain in the east African nation.
Mr Johnson wrote in the Daily Mail in June that to get the Rwanda scheme underway ‘it might be necessary to take further steps and, if required, to change the law’.
He added: ‘The Government has the power, under Schedule 3 of the Asylum and Immigration Act 2004, to ask Parliament to deem Rwanda a safe country. That has not so far been done and it should now be done – immediately.’
A source close to the former PM said: ‘Mr Johnson is delighted to see the Government adopt his plan.’
But a government source disputed that Mr Johnson was the inspiration. They said the ex-PM ‘wanted to overrule the courts and declare Rwanda safe... which would have no legal effect in and of itself’.
Mr Sunak said he expected his plan would ‘clear the remaining barriers to getting flights off, as planned, in the spring of next year’.
‘He should have done it months ago’