Alexander Horne

Alexander Horne is a barrister and visiting professor at Durham University. He was previously a senior parliamentary lawyer.

Could Northern Ireland become a migrant sanctuary?

Yesterday, the High Court in Belfast dealt a blow to the government when it struck down several provisions in the Illegal Migration Act 2023, and declared that parts of the legislation were incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights. The Illegal Migration Act is a key piece of legislation for the government’s Rwanda scheme.

The Rwanda Bill won’t survive contact with reality

After significant wrangling in parliament, the government has finally passed its Rwanda Bill – while managing to resist any significant new amendments from the Lords. It is reported that the Bill is likely to gain royal assent this week and that the government has already identified individuals for removal. Given the scheme appeared dead in the water last year, Rishi

What Strasbourg’s climate ruling means for Europe

Today, the European Court of Human Rights ruled on an unprecedented trio of cases which claimed that European states have taken insufficient action to combat climate change. The outcome of the claims were mixed. But the judgments of the Strasbourg Court are likely to prove exceedingly contentious. The three cases involved claims against Switzerland, France

Should the UK impose an arms embargo on Israel?

Yesterday, a letter from 600 legal experts, including four former Supreme Court judges, was published, arguing that the UK government should impose an arms embargo on Israel, impose sanctions on individuals and entities who had ‘made statements inciting genocide against Palestinians’, and suspend negotiations on a new bilateral trade agreement with Israel. It also demanded the UK

Why climate protestors lost the right to cause criminal damage

Yesterday, the Lady Chief Justice, Lady Carr, delivered a judgment on protest law which may close a remarkable loophole which had been exploited by climate change protestors who engage in direct action to promote their cause. Protestors who have damaged property with paint or smashed windows have been cleared in recent years after telling juries

Could this Lords paper save the Rwanda Bill?

Parliamentary procedures and conventions are often dismissed as ‘arcane’ or ‘byzantine’ by commentators. Still, on occasion, they can have a significant impact on politics – as demonstrated by the recent furore over a Labour amendment to the Gaza ceasefire motion in February. Last week, a new paper in the House of Lords was published which has the potential

Protests targeting MPs’ homes must not become the norm

On Monday evening, more than 60 activists gathered outside the home of Tobias Ellwood, a Conservative backbencher and former junior defence minister and chair of the Defence Select Committee. The protestors had assembled to call for a ceasefire in Gaza, although several were also heard supporting the Houthi rebels in Yemen, who have recently been

It will be difficult for Israel to ignore this ICJ ruling

Yesterday, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) delivered an interim ruling on South Africa’s genocide case against Israel. Its decision is likely to please neither side of the debate, but seems broadly balanced: it criticised Israel, but failed to demand a suspension of the conflict.  The court, which sits in The Hague, was formed in

Will the Lords block Rishi’s Rwanda Bill?

Rishi Sunak will have been delighted last night to see his Rwanda Bill pass in the Commons, by 320 votes to 276. An expected Conservative rebellion was quelled, with only 11 Conservative MPs voting against the measure and no amendments accepted. The vote exposed the posturing of the Conservative rebels. Fifty nine Conservative MPs were prepared

Ireland could regret its attack on the Troubles law

The Irish government has controversially announced that it will bring an inter-state claim against the UK in the European Court of Human Rights over the Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Act. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar rather piously claimed that he had ‘no option’ but to bring the case, since the Act breaches the European Convention

The Rwanda Bill is going to be hugely contentious

On Wednesday, the government finally published its promised ‘emergency legislation’, after the Supreme Court ruled in November that the Rwanda scheme was unlawful. The new legislation follows the agreement of a new treaty with Rwanda on Tuesday which aimed to ‘strengthen the UK-Rwanda Migration Partnership’ and deal with the serious problems identified by the Supreme

Has Sunak done enough to fix the Rwanda plan?

When the Supreme Court found against the government on the Home Office’s Rwanda policy in November, the plan appeared to be dead in the water. The court made clear that there were substantial grounds to think that asylum claims would not be properly determined by the Rwandan authorities. As a result, it concluded that asylum

Why the Supreme Court demolished the Rwanda scheme

In its simple and comprehensible judgment, the Supreme Court has dealt a crushing blow to the Home Office’s Rwanda policy this morning.   The court upheld the decision of the Court of Appeal that the policy was unlawful. It reached that view because it believed there were substantial grounds to think that asylum claims would not

The case for prosecuting ‘from the river to the sea’

As an international lawyer, splitting my time between London and Brussels, I dare say I might be considered one of Theresa May’s ‘citizens of nowhere’. Nonetheless, as the protests about the Israeli response to the atrocities committed by Hamas on 7 October have become more strident and legally problematic, I have also had cause to reflect on my

Will constitutional reform be on Starmer’s conference agenda?

As Labour travels to Liverpool this weekend, one issue which will attract attention is the extent to which Sir Keir Starmer spells out his vision on constitutional reform, if the party wins a majority at the next election.  The Blair administration introduced a variety of ambitious constitutional innovations in its first term, including devolution, Lords

Why can’t we just leave the European Convention on Human Rights?

Anyone reading the news over the past two days could be forgiven for feeling a certain sense of déjà vu. Senior figures in government, including an unnamed cabinet minister, have suggested that if Rwanda flights removing asylum seekers are blocked by the courts, Conservatives would ‘inevitably’ back moves to leave the European Convention on Human

Boris Johnson has finally run out of luck

Last night, Boris Johnson unexpectedly resigned from the House of Commons. His graceless and indignant resignation statement made clear that he blamed the Privileges Committee for his departure, arguing that he had been forced out of parliament over partygate. The committee had written to Mr Johnson in advance of the publication of its report, outlining

Why Boris Johnson might escape a partygate punishment

After several months of anticipation, two contentious legal submissions from Lord Pannick KC and a bumper 52-page witness statement, Boris Johnson finally made his appearance before the Privileges Committee yesterday. Regular select committee watchers might have been surprised to see the panel of seven MPs conduct a forensic examination of Mr Johnson, sticking doggedly to