PM to introduce emergency legislation after Rwanda plan rejected
Rishi Sunak’s plan to rush through new laws, enabling illegal asylum seekers to be deported to Rwanda for processing of their claims, is doomed to fail, according to a major new expert study.
The paper drawn up by top KC Martin Howe for the Centre for Brexit Policy think tank, has warned that as long as the UK is a signatory to the ECHR, it will face appeals to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg and further long delays in processing claims.
The report noted: “The Rwanda removal scheme is still left vulnerable to ECHR-based legal challenges in the UK courts.
“There will be challenges based on individual circumstances even if emergency legislation reverses the effect of the Supreme Court decision unless that emergency legislation is drafted to exclude those individual challenges as well.”
It concluded that the only way to remove the power of the unaccountable Strasbourg court from the UK legal system was to announce Britain’s departure from the ECHR.
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The report comes as another legal expert has told Express.co.uk that the emergency legislation planned by Rishi Sunak to overcome the reasons the Supreme Court blocked the Rwanda deportation scheme is set to fail.
Dr Joelle Grogan, senior researcher at UK in a Changing Europe and former head of the government legal service, told Express.co.uk: “The Government could pass legislation which said that Rwanda is safe, but – this would not change the facts on the ground in Rwanda.
“It would only have legal effect in the UK. What this means is that the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg could still issue rule 39 orders against removals, and we could see judgments against the UK stating that it is violating human rights.
“However – and it certainly seems to indicate so – the government can choose to ignore both.”
He went on: “It’s the responsibility of each country to uphold its commitment to the ECHR.
“The real damage if the UK started ignoring the Court is to the UK’s (strong) human rights record before the Court, and to its international reputation as a country that holds itself to the agreements that it’s signed up to.”
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New Home Secretary James Cleverly also has the task of trying to get the emergency legislation quickly through Parliament.
However, Mr Grogan warns that this will be difficult, especially because of opposition in the Lords.
The last immigration legislation earlier this year met fierce resistance from the Lords led by the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby.
Dr Grogan said: “The challenge for the government, however, is getting it through Parliament. Even if the legislation can be fast-tracked through the Commons where government has a majority – it doesn’t control the Lords’ timetable.
“The Lords are likely to closely look at whether – especially considering the evidence they heard yesterday – Rwanda is safe. This could delay the passage of the Bill right up to the next election and make it a manifesto issue instead.”
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The Prime Minister repeated last week that he will do “whatever it takes” to stop the boats and get the Rwanda scheme to work.
Despite sacking Suella Braverman as Home Secretary, who supported taking the UK out of the ECHR, he pointedly claimed leaving the ECHR is still on the table.
But the Centre for Brexit Policy paper warns that remaining as a member of the ECHR has additional risks for the UK’s attempts to take back control of its borders because of the Strasbourg Court’s powers to issue last-minute rulings blocking flights – and because of the reluctance of ministers to confront it.
Mr Howe added: “Even if the UK courts ultimately allow removals to Rwanda to go ahead, migrants’ lawyers can then make direct petitions to the Strasbourg Court and ask that Court for an “interim indication” against the deportation going ahead until the full hearing of their case, likely to be years later…
“Last year the Government bowed to such an interim indication and halted a flight to Rwanda at the last minute. Since then no flights have taken place.
“The government now has the clear power under UK law to ignore Strasbourg Court interim indications in future, but there is still a question mark over whether it has the robustness to do so and face the ensuing row.”
Mr Howe also rejected the argument that pulling out of the ECHR would not be enough to restore national control over borders and that Britain would also have to pull out of the Geneva Convention on Refugees or other international treaties.
He pointed out that the Geneva Refugees Convention is much less extensive than the Strasbourg Court’s case law under the ECHR and would not preclude the processing of asylum claims in Rwanda.
Mr Howe accused the Strasbourg Court of subverting the laudable aim of protecting fundamental human rights when the Convention was drawn up after the Second World War.
He said: “The Strasbourg Court has transformed it into something completely different, by acting effectively as a law-making body rather than sticking to its allotted task of interpreting the text which was agreed by the founding states.”
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