James Heale James Heale

Sunak unveils his ‘emergency legislation’ on Rwanda

Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images

Three weeks after the Prime Minister’s ‘emergency legislation’ to make the Rwandan scheme viable, tonight it is finally here. The seven-page Bill was published shortly before Rishi Sunak’s address to the 1922 Committee and James Cleverly’s statement to the House of Commons.

The Bill’s solution to the Supreme Court verdict last month is to disapply elements of the Human Rights Act which would have exposed the government to legal challenges, while also declaring in law that Rwanda is a ‘safe country.’ It will let ministers override European Court of Human Rights edicts to block planes from taking off – like the so-called ‘pyjama injunctions’ of June 2022. However, it stops short of leaving the convention and does not include ‘notwithstanding clauses’ that would allow ministers to ignore the ECHR and other international treaties in the area of asylum.

The Bill’s publication comes barely two hours after Suella Braverman’s speech in parliament, which now looks less likely to make the front pages of many newspapers tomorrow. Instead, they will likely be dominated by the legislation which appears to go further to the right than was previously thought likely. However, supporters of Braverman maintain that this Bill will still allow migrants to make individual human rights claims against their removal and thereafter appeal the verdict.

The government’s argument is that the legislation unveiled tonight is as far as they could have gone without abandoning international law. This, they say, is something which the Rwandans themselves do not want. If they had gone further in abandoning the convention then the partnership between London and Kigali would have been at risk.

Tonight, the speeches of Sunak and Cleverly will be vital exercises for No. 10 in trying to build momentum behind their narrative. But the man whom many MPs are watching is Robert Jenrick, the Immigration Minister.

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