Sacked home secretary Suella Braverman has called for an “end to self-deception” in Government about its Rwanda plan as she laid out her five tests to ensure deportation flights can take off.
Mrs Braverman, who was dismissed during a reshuffle this week, said the Prime Minister’s proposals to overcome the Supreme Court’s verdict that the Rwanda policy is unlawful is unlikely to succeed in removing asylum seekers before the next election.
She predicted that Rishi Sunak’s two-part plan would likely get bogged down in both domestic and European courts as she proposed introducing legislation that “excludes all avenues of legal challenge”.
In an article for The Daily Telegraph, Mrs Braverman said a solution to the challenge of stopping migrants crossing the English Channel “demands of the Government an end to self-deception and spin”.
“There must be no more magical thinking. Tinkering with a failed plan will not stop the boats,” she said.
Mr Sunak’s response to the Supreme Court judgment on Wednesday saw him announce that his administration plans to lay down emergency legislation to have Parliament deem Rwanda a “safe” country.
He also intends to broker a new legally binding treaty on top of the £140 million deal already struck with Kigali to take migrants arriving in Britain via small boats.
The yet-to-be-published treaty with Rwanda is expected to attempt to address the Supreme Court’s concerns around refoulement – the potential for refugees whose applications for asylum are rejected by Kigali to be sent back to the country they are fleeing from.
But Mrs Braverman, in her newspaper article, said that “amending our agreement with Rwanda and converting it into a treaty, even with explicit obligations on non-refoulement, will not solve the fundamental issue”.
Instead, she proposed that ministers address concerns raised by the five senior judges about Rwanda’s asylum and legal system by “embedding UK observers and independent reviewers of asylum decisions”.
New legislation should be laid in Westminster to “exclude all avenues of legal challenge” so that international obligations, such as the Human Rights Act and the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), are “disapplied by way of clear ‘notwithstanding clauses'”, she said.
The right-wing Conservative also suggested Parliament sit over Christmas to ensure the new emergency law can be passed before next year.
The Fareham MP said a new treaty with Rwanda would “still require going back through the courts”, a process that she predicted could take at least a year.
And even a victory in domestic courts would only mean the “saga would simply relocate to Strasbourg where the European court would take its time deciding if it liked our laws”, she added.
“That is why the plan outlined by the PM will not yield flights to Rwanda before an election if Plan B is simply a tweaked version of the failed Plan A,” said the former Home Office chief.
The Prime Minister has said he is aiming for the first removal flights to leave in the spring following the delivery of the reforms to his flagship policy.
But Chancellor Jeremy Hunt refused to commit to migrants who arrive via unauthorised means being sent to the east African country in 2024.
Speaking to broadcasters on Thursday, Mr Hunt said: “We are hopeful that because of the solutions that the Prime Minister announced yesterday we will be able to get flights off to Rwanda next year.
“We can’t guarantee that.”
New Home Secretary James Cleverly, during broadcast interviews on Thursday, said he was “absolutely determined” to get a removal flight off the runway before the next election.
A general election is expected to be held next year, with Mr Sunak needing to call a vote by January 2025.
The British leader has made “stopping the boats” one of his five pledges to the electorate ahead of the next election.
The threat of being deported to Rwanda has been regularly touted by the Conservative Party leader and other senior Government figures as one of the ways that can help deliver the commitment.
The new treaty with Kigali could be published as soon as Monday, with the emergency legislation tabled a week later, according to The Guardian.
The Government’s next steps on the Rwanda policy is expected to face opposition to its plans in the House of Lords.
Lord Sumption, a former Supreme Court judge, told the BBC the plan to use a law to declare Rwanda as safe is “constitutionally really quite extraordinary” and would “effectively overrule” a decision by the UK’s highest court.
Under pressure from the right of the party, Mr Sunak has kept the threat of pulling out of the ECHR on the table for the future in his battle to deport migrants.
Mrs Braverman, however, did not call for such action in her five tests.