A way through the Rwanda impasse

Labor also finds itself on the wrong side of public opinion on the issue of immigration control. The opposition claims the ministers would rather quarrel with so-called “left-wing lawyers” trying to prevent the deportation of illegal migrants to Rwanda than deal with the problem themselves. The charge that it is politically convenient for ministers to have this argument may have some truth, but it also serves to reveal a lack of thought among critics about viable alternatives.

The intervention of the European Court of Human Rights has introduced a new dimension: the extent to which Britain is able to make its own sovereign decisions. Although the court is not an EU body, parts of the Brexit deal were based on continued membership of the convention and this would be difficult, if not impossible, to overturn.

Britain’s judiciary, including the Supreme Court, had given the go-ahead for at least some of the migrants awaiting deportation to be sent to Rwanda, but the first flight was grounded at the last minute after an appeal in Strasbourg. It is at least questionable whether the UK could have ignored this decision, which was taken in summary proceedings by the court, not least because the conditions for intervention did not appear to have been met. In fact, the decision was made in such haste and in the midst of such secrecy that it’s hard to know the reasons behind it.

However, as the Home Secretary noted in the House of Commons, no court has ruled the policy illegal. A full legal hearing is due next month, but the policy can only be considered unlawful if it is shown that sending the migrants to Rwanda will put them at risk. The only risk they are known to face is crossing the English Channel in small boats. A way through the Rwanda impasse

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