Suella Braverman: No pre-election flights under Prime Minister’s Rwanda plan

  • By Becky Morton
  • Political Correspondent

The Prime Minister’s current Rwanda plan means no asylum seekers will be sent there before the next election, former Home Secretary Suella Braverman has said.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that the Rwandan policy was illegal.

A few hours later, Rishi Sunak announced plans for emergency legislation and a new agreement with Rwanda so that the first flights would take off in the spring.

But Ms Braverman said it would not address a “fundamental problem” with the plan – the UK’s High Court has ruled Rwanda risks sending asylum seekers back to the countries they fled, putting them at risk of harm.

In its ruling, the Supreme Court said there were “substantial reasons” to believe that people deported to Rwanda could be returned to unsafe places.

In her first detailed response to the ruling, Ms Braverman, who was sacked as home secretary on Monday, said she did not see how the government could fulfill its pledge before leaving parliament unless the prime minister went further than his current plans. Time.

“Try to provide flights to Rwanda under any new agreement and still have to go back through the courts, a process that could take at least another year,” he said.

“That process could end in another failure, on new or similar grounds to Wednesday’s: essentially, the judges cannot be sure that Rwanda will abide by the terms of any new agreement.”

A general election is expected next year, and one should be held by January 2025.

To prevent further legal challenges, Ms Braverman said the Prime Minister’s proposed legislation would ignore “the entirety” of human rights law and other relevant international obligations, including the European Convention on Human Rights and the Refugee Convention.

To address the Supreme Court’s concerns, Ms Braverman argued that the UK should take practical steps to improve Rwanda’s asylum system, for example by embedding UK observers or independent reviewers of asylum decisions.

He said the law should also make clear that people coming to the UK illegally will be detained until they are removed.

Ms Braverman added that a bill should be introduced through Parliament’s Christmas break and MPs should be called back to sit down and debate it during the break.

He said there was “no reason” to criticize the verdict of the Supreme Court judges, rather than his recent public interventions.

Instead, he blamed “politicians who failed to introduce legislation guaranteeing our Rwanda partnership”.

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WATCH: Rishi Sunak tells BBC’s Chris Mason flights to Rwanda will happen in spring

The Prime Minister says the new deal will guarantee that Rwanda will not send migrants back to countries where they may be persecuted or vulnerable. He also proposes legislation that would certify Rwanda as a “safe” country – despite the Supreme Court’s findings.

The Rwandan policy is central to Mr Sunak’s plan to stop asylum seekers from crossing the canal in small boats – one of his key pledges – designed to deter people from making the dangerous journey.

Downing Street has said legislation will be prepared “in the coming weeks”.

However, it is expected to face opposition in the House of Lords, and many expect further legal challenges in the courts.

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