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Sunak’s ‘Stop the Boats’ Plan in tatters as Supreme Court rules Rwanda Asylum Plan is unlawful

11/15/2023 3:59 PM

Rishi Sunak’s ‘Stop the Boat’ plans, upon which he has underpinned his leadership credentials and which has been the centrepiece of his 5 policy pledges, are in tatters this morning following the Supreme Court unanimous ruling, which upheld the Court of Appeal decision of 12th September. Today’s ruling confirms that deporting asylum seekers to Rwanda is unlawful.

Rwanda cannot be relied upon to keep its promises

In what Lord Reed defined as a ‘non-political decision’, he calmly laid out the clear justifications for the conclusion of the Supreme Court judges, which determined that the Appeal Court was absolutely correct to make its ruling that the government’s position of trust in the integrity of the Rwanda government’s commitments was misplaced. He pointed out that Rwanda’s track record for living up to its undertakings was questionable and unsafe and importantly that based on current practice, it would not be safe to place transferred asylum seekers within their jurisdiction. He said Rwanda could not be relied on to keep the promises not to mistreat asylum-seekers sent from Britain. Lord Reed said:

‘Asylum seekers were frequently moved to another country from which they were likely to be refouled’

Crucially, the judges made the point that considerations went beyond the scope of the European Court of Human Rights and took into account UK Domestic law as it relates to fundamental human rights. The Judge made clear that the evidence provided by the UNHCR was critical to their decision and that it was wrong for the British government to ignore their advice.  

He further pointed out that the risk of ‘refoulement’ if asylum seekers had their claims heard in Rwanda, meant that genuine refugees could be returned to their countries of origin and face potential violence. This he said would represent a violation of both domestic and international law.

'The Home Secretary's appeal is therefore dismissed'

In conclusion, Judge Reed stated:

‘The legal test which has to be applied in this case is whether there are substantial grounds for believing that asylum seekers sent to Rwanda would be at real risk of refoulement…In the light of the evidence which I have summaries, the Court of Appeal concluded that there were such grounds. We are unanimously of the view that they were entitled to reach that conclusion. Indeed, having been taken through the evidence ourselves, we agree with their conclusion…We accept the home secretary's submission that the Rwandan government entered into the agreement in good faith, and that the capacity of the Rwandan system to produce accurate and fair decisions can and will be built up…Nevertheless, asking ourselves whether there were substantial grounds for believing that a real risk of refoulement existed at the relevant time, we have concluded that there were…The changes needed to eliminate the risk of refoulement may be delivered in the future, but they have not been shown to be in place now…The Home Secretary's appeal is therefore dismissed.

Prime Minister faces humiliation at PMQ's and rebellion from his own backbenchers

The Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, is set to face PM Questions at midday and expects to be confronted with questions about what the opposition has referred to as a waste of £140 million of taxpayers' money and a failure of the government to address the problem of illegal migration.

Meanwhile, news that a meeting of over 60 Tories on the right of the party, has been scheduled to take place on Wednesday to discuss the Supreme Court’s decision and the implications of allegations made in the scathing letter sent to the Prime Minister on Tuesday by Suella Braverman, following her sacking from her role as Home Secretary. The letter has since been regarded as a pre-emptive strike in advance of today’s ruling. There is talk of a new Tory civil war, as factions on the right of the party have already issued fresh warnings to the Prime Minister that they intend to ‘unleash a grid of sh**’ on him over the next few days - a reference to plans to dominate the news media with anti-Sunak commentary. There is also suggestion that the current crisis may trigger a flurry of letters of no confidence to the 1922 Committee.

The UK Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, who had previously said ‘Illegal migration is undoubtedly the country’s priority’, responded to the Supreme Court ruling today by saying ‘We will now consider next steps before he announced plans for a press statement which will be delivered later this afternoon at 4.45 pm. James Cleverly, the new Home Secretary said: the government ‘will carefully review today’s judgement’.

The Government 'has made complete chaos of the UK’s asylum system'

Sacha Deshmukh, the CEO of Amnesty International, issued the following statement following the judgement:

 

‘This judgment is vital to protect people seeking asylum in this country, but the Government must now draw a line under a disgraceful chapter in the UK’s political history. The deal with Rwanda – a country with a track record of serious human rights violations, including arbitrary detention, torture and the repression of free speech - was massively ill conceived and cruel.

It’s now time for the Government and the new Home Secretary to not only abandon the idea of doing a deal with Rwanda, but to scrap the underlying policy of refusing to process people’s asylum claims and the Illegal Migration Act that has entrenched that dismal policy. This policy has made complete chaos of the UK’s asylum system and this shameful deal has simply exacerbated the mess.

The only responsible, effective and decent response to this judgement should be to get down to the serious task of fairly and efficiently determining people’s claims. The idea that the UK should withdraw from the European Convention to pursue this failed policy is nonsensical and should be immediately binned. The Government should make policies, which fit with the law, not fit the law around their policies

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, declared the government's illegal migration strategy to be shameful. He said:

'The government's Rwanda policy isn't just cruel, callous and morally reprehensible — the Supreme Court has confirmed it's unlawful too. The fact the government came up with the idea of sending people fleeing violence and persecution to a country thousands of miles away is shameful.'

Scotland's first Minister, Humza Yousaf, went further, describing the government's policy as 'repugnant'. He said:

'Not only is the UK government's policy of sending asylum seekers to Rwanda morally repugnant but it has now been confirmed as unlawful too. The policy must be scrapped. We need a humane system that doesn't leave asylum seekers stuck in destitution for years without the right to work'

Steve Smith, CEO of Care4Calais - the refugee charity, said:

'Today's judgement should bring this shameful mark on the UK’s history to a close. Never again should our government seek to shirk our country's responsibility to offer sanctuary to those caught up in horrors around the world.'

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