Nobody in BBC Question Time audience supports Rwanda policy
Furious Suella Braverman claimed the system is “rigged against the British people” after top judges blocked deportation flights to Rwanda.
The Court of Appeal ruled plans to send asylum seekers to the east African nation are unlawful in a major setback for the government. Ms Braverman confirmed she will appeal the “disappointing” decision which ignores what the “majority” of the British people want.
The Home Secretary said: “The system is rigged against the British people, it’s as simple as that. It’s why we’re changing the laws through our Illegal Migration Bill, it’s why we’re rolling out a ground-breaking partnership with Rwanda which we believe is lawful, with a country which we believe is safe.
“So, we need to change the system, we need to change our laws, that’s how we’re going to stop the boats.”
Court of Appeal judges said Rwanda had not provided enough safeguards to prove it is a “safe third country”.
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But the panel of three was split, with the most senior judge, Lord Chief Justice Lord Burnett, backed the government.
Sir Geoffrey Vos and Lord Justice Underhill decided that assurances from the Rwandan government were not “sufficient to ensure that there is no real risk that asylum seekers relocated under the Rwanda policy will be wrongly returned to countries where they face persecution or other inhumane treatment”.
Rishi Sunak said he “fundamentally” disagrees with the decision and told the Daily Express he was “determined to see this through”.
The Prime Minister said: “We knew this policy would get challenged and we will seek permission to appeal this decision at the Supreme Court as soon as possible.
“I fundamentally disagree with this decision. Rwanda is a safe country and has been recognised as such by the United Nations High Commissioner for refugees.
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“The major positive is that the Court of Appeal accepts the substance of the policy which is that asylum seekers can be relocated. This is a big win.
“The most senior judge, the Lord Chief Justice, agrees that there is no real risk that asylum-seekers relocated under the Rwanda policy would be wrongly returned to third countries.
“There is no way Rwanda could possibly do that as it has no agreements with any other country to do such a thing. You can’t just fill a plane and then kick everyone out in another country.
“We are committed to this policy. This country and your government should decide who comes here, not the criminal gangs who exploit these people and put their lives at risk. We are determined to see this through.”
The first deportation flight – due to take off on June 14 last year – was grounded following a series of objections against individual removals and the policy as a whole.
Eight asylum seekers, along with charities and the PCS union, brought legal action against the plans to give people one-way tickets to Rwanda and the case was heard by the High Court, which handed down its judgment in December, but ended up in the Court of Appeal.
So far this year 11,279 migrants have crossed the English Channel in small boats.
Former ministers Sir Edward Leigh and Mark Francois called for the UK to seek an exemption from part of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) to assist deportation efforts.
Conservative former minister Sir Edward Leigh said: “What we’ve been suggesting for two years in the Common Sense Group is the Refugee Convention is made for a different world, as was the human rights convention, and we simply have to have a derogation so that we can detain people and then deport them, and we’ll never solve this problem otherwise.”
Mr Francois said: “It could now take months for the case to reach the Supreme Court, let alone for a judgment to be handed down. In the meantime, the boats will keep coming, now probably all summer.”
He asked if anything could be done to “expedite the Supreme Court’s decision in this case”, and added “the only way we will ultimately solve this problem is to achieve a derogation from the ECHR”.
Conservative MP Aaron Bell said: “I believe this is fundamentally a question of democracy. The British people have repeatedly voted for control of immigration and my constituents in Newcastle-under-Lyme expect us to stop the boats.”
Tory Philip Hollobone told the Commons his constituents are “completely fed up with the courts frustrating the Rwanda plan”.
Charity Asylum Aid, which brought the challenge alongside several asylum seekers, described the Court of Appeal’s ruling as a “vindication of the importance of the Rule of Law and basic fairness when fundamental rights are at stake.”
Tessa Gregory, a partner at law firm Leigh Day which represented Asylum Aid, said: “We are delighted that the Court of Appeal has ruled that the Rwanda removals process is unlawful on grounds of safety.
“Although it did not find in favour of Asylum Aid’s claim that the fast-track process was also unlawful it recognised problems around the shortcut process, including that lawyers are needed and representations by individuals on general issues can and should be made.
“There are clear deficiencies in the process, some of which have been recognised by the court and Asylum Aid will consider whether it is necessary to appeal.”
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