Rwanda: Mishal Husain and Dominic Raab clash over legal points
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Spiked’s chief political writer Brendan O’Neill put the blame the “emergence of a new anti-democratic alliance” for the failed Rwanda-bound flight that did not take off after a series of last-minute legal challenges by the Strasbourg-based Europe Court of Human Rights (ECHR). Seven asylum seekers were on board the flight – originally scheduled to take off with 130 people on board – when an ECHR judge granted an “urgent interim measure” which allowed all the seven passengers to leave the plane. This final injunction went contrary to the UK’s domestic courts’ ruling which said the flight could go ahead.
In a tirade on Talk TV, Mr O’Neill said: “I think it’s a complete and utter disgrace. I think we’re seeing the emergence of a new, anti-democratic alliance with clergy, monarchy and unelected judges in Strasbourg who are trying to frustrate a government’s policy drawn up by a government that was voted into power by 14 million people.
“I think it is incredibly anti-democratic. Now, you can agree or disagree with the Rwanda policy.
“I have numerous issues with the Rwanda policy. I don’t think it’s going to work. But I don’t think it’s particularly fair.
“But this is about democracy. Who rules this country? Is it the people we put into power? Or is it unelected people who think their moral feelings are superior to our votes? That’s the question now.”
When pressed on whether Britain should consider leaving the ECHR, Boris Johnson told reporters: “It may very well be necessary to change some laws.”
“The legal world is very good at picking up ways of trying to stop the government from upholding what we think is a sensible law,” Mr Johnson said.
Over the last few weeks, human rights activists and lawyers had been fighting legal battles to stop the first flight bound to Kigali from taking off. All three UK courts – including the UK’s Supreme Court – ruled against their pleas and confirmed the flight could go ahead.
The ECHR’s last-minute intervention reversed all three decisions and cancelled the flight half an hour before departure.
UK Home Secretary Priti Patel said she found the ECHR’s ruling “very surprising” and added she was “disappointed” that the flight had not departed.
“We will not be deterred from doing the right thing and delivering our plans to control our nation’s borders,” Patel said. “Our legal team are reviewing every decision made and preparation for the next flight begins now.”
She added: “It is very surprising that the European Court of Human Rights has intervened despite repeated earlier success in our domestic courts.”
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Under the Rwanda policy, the UK can send some undocumented migrants to Rwanda where they will be given the choice of either applying for asylum in Rwanda or returning to their origin country.
The Church of England and Prince Charles had described the policy as “appalling” and “immoral.”
The archbishops of Canterbury and York and other bishops wrote in a letter to the Times: “Whether or not the first deportation flight leaves Britain today for Rwanda, this policy should shame us as a nation.
“The shame is our own, because our Christian heritage should inspire us to treat asylum seekers with compassion, fairness and justice, as we have for centuries.”
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