“I won’t allow a foreign court to block us from flights taking off,” says Rishi Sunak.
The British Prime Minister is pushing to make the Government’s Rwanda plan for immigrant relocations legally binding irrespective of the opinion of judges in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). The government is said to be finalising legislation to push through the controversial deal.
Sunak said the deportation programme is “crucial” to solving Britain’s migrant crisis. he told ITV news that his “patience is worn thin” by the many delays to fully implementing it.
To overcome problems, he wants to sign a new treaty with Rwanda and, in light of the British Supreme Court’s ruling on November 15 that the original plan was illegal, is proposing an emergency law to guarantee the amended agreement’s legality.
Sunak hinted at new legislation while travelling to the COP28 climate summit in the UAE.
“It’s important that we get it right because this is such a vital issue,” he said.
“I’m clear about the goal here – the goal is to make sure that Parliament can declare unequivocally that, on the basis of everything that we’ve done, that Rwanda is a safe place to operationalise our scheme.
“Once we’ve done that and Parliament’s affirmed that, there should be no more domestic blocks to us putting in place this programme that we’ve been working on for a long time.”
He also added that he has been clear that no “foreign” court would get in the way.
“My patience is worn thin, the British people’s patience is worn thin.
“And although we’ve made great progress on this issue – reducing the number of small-boat crossings [of the English Channel] by a third this year, something that everyone thought was impossible when I got this job, we’ve got more to go,” he stated.
“I want to finish the job and that’s why I’ll get the Rwanda scheme up and running.”
The issue has been contested in the UK even within Sunak’s Conservative Party.
More than twenty Conservatives, including the chair of the One Nation group of Conservative MPs and former senior cabinet minister Damian Green, have written to Sunak pleading with him not to back down from the UK’s human rights pledges, while others say national interest comes first and want to leave the ECHR altogether.
Earlier this year, a group of Civil Society organisations from across Europe, including the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, the Greek Council for Refugees, and the Public Law Project, wrote a warning letter to Sunak, calling his plans “reckless” in that they risk triggering “further instability.”
In June 2022, the first flight to Rwanda was grounded after lawyers made a successful emergency application to the ECHR. The British government called it a temporary setback at the time, but the Rwanda-plan has stalled ever since.
'My patience has worn thin'
At #COP28 Rishi Sunak says he 'will get the Rwanda scheme up and running' as he faces pressure from within his own party to tackle small boat crossings https://t.co/S7VxCe4M1z pic.twitter.com/CCsnCqZOIM
— ITV News Politics (@ITVNewsPolitics) December 1, 2023