Suella Braverman’s ‘dream’ of Rwanda flight could come true this year, sources say | Immigration and asylum
Suella Braverman’s “dream” of flying refugees to Rwanda could come true by the end of the year and before the next elections, government sources have said.
The Home Secretary believes that “with a favorable wind” the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg could rule on the controversial policy by the end of 2023 and that it is unlikely to overturns the decisions of the British courts.
Government sources said that even if there is a Supreme Court referral, Braverman’s team say a deportation flight to the East African country could well take off before the next general election. .
It comes as Downing Street refused to rule out that the UK could withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights if it was deemed necessary to stop small boat crossings, despite serious concerns from some Conservative MPs.
Last month Rishi Sunak said ‘tackling small boats’ was his top priority in government – a risky move given that Boris Johnson and Theresa May failed to adopt policies that reduced the number .
Braverman spoke in October of his zeal to push through the Rwanda deal. “I would like to have a front page of the Telegraph with a plane taking off for Rwanda, it’s my dream, it’s my obsession,” she said.
In December, judges ruled that the policy, which aims to stem the number of people crossing the English Channel from northern France in small boats, was legal.
In January, the same judges allowed part of their decision to be challenged in the Court of Appeal.
Sunak’s official spokesman stressed that No 10 was confident that a new bill promised to try to limit the number of refugees and migrants arriving unofficially would respect international treaties, but declined to say what might happen if the European court opposes the plans.
However, other officials said that even if withdrawal from the ECHR was considered, it would not happen in this parliament. If eventually deemed necessary, it would most likely first be included as a manifesto pledge for the upcoming election.
Any decision to leave the ECHR would be deeply controversial, partly because its provisions are part of the Good Friday peace agreement, but also because it would leave the UK with Russia and Belarus as the only European countries outside of the continent’s common framework of rights.
Asked about a Sunday Times report that Sunak was planning such a move, the PM’s spokesman said only that a bill due in the coming weeks to tackle small boat crossings would be in line with the ECHR , and refused to be fired at what would happen if he didn’t.
“I don’t get into some kind of unsourced speculation about future projects,” he said. “All I can say is that the government’s policy approach when it comes to tackling this problem will both address the underlying causes and seek to comply with our international obligations, including the ECHR.”
While a number of Tory MPs would back the pullout, citing local concerns over the number of people arriving in the UK unofficially, such a plan would be fiercely opposed by other party members.
Leaked messages last week in a WhatsApp group of Conservative MPs showed some ‘Red Wall’ MPs complaining that they could never enforce the policy of deporting refugees to Rwanda if they did not leave the ECHR, while that others have warned of a backlash.
A Tory MP told the Guardian he would be very surprised if Sunak made such a move, and that he suspected withdrawal talks were being led by Suella Braverman, the Home Secretary, who had previously called the small “invasion boats on our south coast”. ”.
‘Some colleagues in red wall seats would absolutely love that, and even at my seat it could be fine,’ the MP said. “But there would be a massive comeback from colleagues in the most Lib Dem-leaning seats in the south.
“If the Prime Minister does this, it will create a big division within the party. And if he doesn’t, it won’t. So, I personally don’t think Rishi wants this fight. I think it’s more Suella waving a flag.
According to the Sunday Times, Sunak is ready to quit the ECHR if the Strasbourg court rules against the bill.
The proposed new bill, cited by Sunak as one of his top five policy promises, could prove problematic under the provisions of the ECHR given that it is widely expected to stipulate that potential refugees who arrive in the UK outside the official channels will not even be allowed to claim asylum.
The bill, which is not due to be published again until next week after the February Commons recess, could also remove the right to appeal against eviction, or allow it only after eviction.