Rishi Sunak promises emergency legislation to get Rwanda flights off by spring

Rishi Sunak has announced that there will be emergency legislation in order to meet his pledge to “stop the boats” following the Supreme Court ruling that the Government's Rwanda policy is unlawful.

In a press conference yesterday afternoon, the Prime Minister said that he would end the “merry-go-round” of legal challenges which have dogged the flagship project since its inception.

On Wednesday morning the Supreme Court rejected the Government’s appeal over its decision that the Rwanda scheme was unlawful in how it removed asylum seekers.

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The five senior justices unanimously ruled that there is a risk genuine asylum seekers could be forced back to their country of origin.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak holds a press conference in Downing Street.Prime Minister Rishi Sunak holds a press conference in Downing Street.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak holds a press conference in Downing Street.

At a press conference in Downing Street, the Prime Minister said: “I do not agree with this decision but I respect it and accept it. The rule of law is fundamental to our democracy. We have prepared for all outcomes of this case. And so we have been working on a new international treaty with Rwanda.

“This will provide a guarantee in law that those who are relocated from the UK to Rwanda will be protected against removal from Rwanda and it will make clear that we will bring back anyone if ordered to do so by a court.

“We will finalise this treaty in light of today’s judgment and ratify it without delay.

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“But we need to end the merry-go-round. I said I was going to fundamentally change our country, and I meant it. So I’m also announcing today that we will take the extraordinary step of introducing emergency legislation. This will enable Parliament to confirm that with our new treaty, Rwanda is safe.”

Taking questions from reporters about whether planes would leave before the next general election, he said ministers were “working extremely hard to make sure that we can get a plane off as planned in the spring”.

However he refused calls to commit to saying that it would be a failure to get flights running by the time of the next election.

Mr Sunak hinted that if international courts, such as the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), continued to frustrate the UK’s efforts then nothing would be off the table in making sure they are bypassed.

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“If the ECHR chooses to intervene against Parliament, I am prepared to do whatever is necessary to get flights off,” he said.

Mr Sunak has come against some of the most entrenched opposition within his own party since taking office over the issue of immigration and small boats crossings.

This came to a head on Monday when Mr Sunak sacked Suella Braverman, his home secretary, after a long battle over the Government’s stance on several key issues.

Ahead of Mr Sunak’s speech, Ms Braverman said: “Today’s Supreme Court judgment is no surprise. It was predicted by a number of people close to the process. Given the current state of the law, there is no reason to criticise the judges. Instead, the government must introduce emergency legislation.

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“The Bill must block off ECHR, HRA, and other routes of legal challenge. This will give Parliament a clear choice: control illegal migration or explain to the British people why they should accept ever greater numbers of illegal arrivals settling here.

“Those who – like me – believe that effective immigration control is vital must understand that they cannot have their cake and eat it: there is no chance of curbing illegal migration within the current legal framework.

“We must legislate or admit defeat.”