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Express Op-Ed: Rishi Sunak's Rwanda fight will go down to the wire

The challenge of passing legislation or striking another Rwanda-style deal could take us right to the next election. Read the article here.


The UK Supreme Court unanimously found that the Government’s "Rwanda Policy" is unlawful. Both sides agreed on the legal rule that refugees must not be returned to a country if their life or freedom would be at risk.


For the highest Court in the UK, the policy itself is not unlawful: under British law and international law, the UK can legally send people to a third country, have their claims decided there, and have them stay there if they are refugees.


The only "unlawful" part is Rwanda: the Court was convinced on the evidence that it’s simply not safe.


UK police have had to tell Rwandan nationals living in the UK that there are threats against their life from the Rwandan government. Judges may not be independent, lawyers may not be provided, and if you’re from certain warzone countries including Afghanistan, Syria and Yemen – there is a 100% rejection rate any refugee claim – no matter how good it is.


What next? The new Home Secretary has promised a new Treaty with Rwanda addressing all concerns. The Prime Minister promised emergency legislation which will declare that Rwanda is a safe country, and immune from any challenges from UK courts or Strasbourg. No court in the world can overturn an Act of Parliament.


But the challenge is getting a law through Parliament, fast or not. With such a weight of evidence against Rwanda, it’s likely we’ll see strong opposition and a slow pace – even taking us right to the next election.


Of course, there’s another way out to keep the policy: make an agreement with another country. The law lists 56 other countries that are safe (8 for men only) – but the big problem for Sunak is that he’s currently only achieved an agreement with one: Rwanda.


For now – no Rwanda, no removals.


First published 15 November 2023 at the Express.


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