Rwanda – live: UK may pull out of European human-rights deal, says No 10

Human rights expert explains what stopped the first Rwanda flight

The UK could pull out of Europe’s human rights framework after last-ditch legal rulings blocked the government’s plan to relocate asylum-seekers to Rwanda.

Downing Street said all options were on the table and did not rule out withdrawing from the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

Home secretary Priti Patel insisted the government would press ahead with its Rwanda plan, saying: “This government will not be deterred from doing the right thing. We will not be put off by the inevitable legal last-minute challenges. Nor will we allow mobs to block removals.”

She said the decision by the European Court of Human Rights that halted last night’s flight was “disappointing and surprising” but “we remain committed to this policy”.

A succession of Tory MPs pushed for the UK to withdraw from the ECHR and the jurisdiction of the Strasbourg court.

Withdrawing from the ECHR would be fraught with difficulties because it underpins human rights obligations in international treaties including the Good Friday Agreement and the Brexit deal.


Speaker censures Boris Johnson for claiming Labour ‘supports people traffickers’

Boris Johnson was censured by the speaker during PMQs on Wednesday after bizarrely claiming that Labour was “on the side of people traffickers”.

Mr Johnson made the claim because Labour has criticised his policy of deporting asylum seekers to Rwanda. Opposition leader Keir Starmer has criticised the move on the grounds of cost and practicality.

During an exchange with the Labour leader Mr Johnson responded to heckling by telling MPs: “They’re on the side of the people traffickers who would risk people’s lives at sea and we are on the side of people who come here safely and legally.”

Here’s more from Jon Stone:

Stuti Mishra16 June 2022 05:30


Boris Johnson can’t ignore the delicate balance required over Brexit and the Good Friday Agreement

The challenge to the UK’s legal standing in relation to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and its court, after the Rwanda plan fiasco, was made before anyone appeared to have told the PM that the ECHR underpins the Good Friday Agreement, writes Sean O’Grady.

The PM proposes to make as-yet-unspecified changes to the law to permit the forcible removal of refugees to Africa.

Stuti Mishra16 June 2022 05:11


Priti Patel accused of wasting millions on Rwanda flights

Priti Patel has been accused of wasting millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money on a political stunt, after plans to deport seven asylum seekers to Rwanda were blocked on Tuesday night, writes Andrew Woodcock.

The aborted flight to the east African country is believed to have cost up to £500,000, on top of an upfront payment of £120m paid to the government in Kigali as part of a “migration and economic development partnership” signed by the home secretary in April.

Government officials insisted that planning was already under way for another flight, but legal experts said it was unlikely any plane would take off before the conclusion of a judicial review next month. Defeat in the courts could mean that no migrants are ever sent to Rwanda.

Stuti Mishra16 June 2022 04:45


Boris Johnson warned his threat to quit human rights treaty risks stability in Northern Ireland

Boris Johnson has been warned he risks destabilising Northern Ireland if he follows through on a threat to pull the UK out of the European Convention on Human Rights in response to a court ruling which thwarted his efforts to deport asylum-seekers to Rwanda on Tuesday (Andrew Woodcock writes).

After the prime minister said he may have to “change some laws” to ensure the flights go ahead, Downing Street today confirmed that ECHR withdrawal is one of a number of options under consideration.

The news was greeted with horror in Belfast and Dublin, as convention membership is a fundamental element of the Good Friday Agreement which brought an end to the Troubles in 1998.

Withdrawal would make the UK the only non-signatories in Europe other than Belarus, whose application to join the Council of Europe has been blocked over its failure to meet democratic standards, and Russia, which pulled out following the invasion of Ukraine.

Liam James16 June 2022 02:40


‘Like I was going to be executed’: On board the failed Rwanda deportation flight

Taken from cells, restrained by harnesses and made to board a plane, only to be granted a last-minute reprieve by European judges. The asylum seekers that Boris Johnson wants to send to central Africa tell May Bulman and Bel Trew their harrowing stories:

On board the failed Rwanda deportation flight

Special Report: Taken from cells, restrained by harnesses and made to board a plane, only to be granted a last-minute reprieve by European judges. The asylum seekers that Boris Johnson wants to send to central Africa tell May Bulman and Bel Trew their harrowing stories

Liam James16 June 2022 00:20


Labour peer warns against leaving human rights court

A Labour peer warned against withdrawing from the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) as it enables the UK to hold other countries to an international standard.

Lord Foulkes of Cumnock, a Tony Blair-era minister, was speaking in the House of Lords after the government suggested it was considering leaving the international court after it effectively blocked the government’s first flight taking asylum seekers to Rwanda.

He told the House of Lords: “To suggest, to even hint, that we are going to withdraw from the European Convention of Human Rights is an absolute disgrace, and if it happens this country will not be able to show its face in any international forum again.”

Home Office minister Baroness Williams of Trafford responded that the deputy prime minister was looking at drawing up a Bill of Rights, which would comply with the ECHR.

Britain was a founding memeber of the ECHR in 1959 and its relationship with the non-EU court did not end after Brexit.

Liam James15 June 2022 22:21


Pier accuses government of ‘two-tier’ asylum system

Independent crossbench peer Lord Singh of Wimbledon accused the Government of operating a “two-tier system of human rights” when it comes to the application of its Rwanda policy.

He told the House of Lords: “We were given a near clear assurance that refugees from Ukraine would not be sent to Rwanda.

“Does this two-tier system of human rights agree with any sort of concept of equal rights for every human being?

“While I deeply sympathise with the plight of the Ukrainians, other people are also suffering and all people should have equal human rights.”

The government’s new policy targets refugees and asylum seekers who arrived in Britain without documentation.

Migration and refugee groups have point out that there are no approved legal routes to Britain for most refugees, with the exception of those fleeing Afghanistan and Ukraine. Britain receives fewer asylum applications than comparably sized European countries such as France and Germany.

Liam James15 June 2022 21:00


Home Office ‘already preparing next flight’

A cabinet minister has insisted the Home Office is preparing the next flight to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda — but declined to say whether it would take place within days or weeks after a major setback. Ashley Cowburn reports:

Jane Dalton15 June 2022 20:10


Sketch: Patel was smirking double hard

As she gave a statement in the Commons, Priti Patel was smirking because she knew she was about to try and style this out as a big success – for at least an hour and 59 minutes, writes Tom Peck:

Jane Dalton15 June 2022 19:45


Parties’ positions side-by-side

Jon Stone looks at the policies of each party on the Rwanda deportations:

Jane Dalton15 June 2022 19:05


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