Rishi Sunak denies Rwanda plan is a 'gamble' as he insists Government will 'vigorously' challenge court decision

4 July 2023, 17:17 | Updated: 4 July 2023, 17:39

Rishi Sunak speaking during the committee meeting
Rishi Sunak speaking during the committee meeting. Picture: Alamy/Parliament TV

By Emma Soteriou

Rishi Sunak has denied his controversial Rwanda migrant plan is a "gamble" and instead insisted the Government will "vigorously" challenge the court's decision.

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Mr Sunak insisted he will fight the legal challenge over Rwanda "confidently and vigorously".

"If you look at the ruling, what you'll see is the Lord Chief Justice in his opinion agreed with the High Court and the government that the safeguards and reassurances that we received from Rwanda are sufficient," Mr Sunak told the Commons Liaison Committee.

"There's a very specific point of contention about the ongoing relocation potentially of people who we send to Rwanda.

"We believe that the safeguards are sufficient so we will keep to confidently and vigorously pursue our case."

The ruling by Court of Appeal judges was a legal victory for asylum seekers and a charity over the Government's controversial plan.

Judges found that Rwanda was not a "safe country" to receive asylum seekers from the UK.

When asked if his pledge to stop the boats was on hold as a result, Mr Sunak said: "No, and a good example of why it's not on hold is our deal with Albania."

Pressed on when he will succeed, the PM responded: "The court will have to determine its own ruling and that's outside the Government's hands. But in the meantime we can get on with a range of other things."

Read more: 'New Conservatives' insist loyalty to Rishi Sunak as they call for 'drastic' cut to immigration levels

Read more: Rishi Sunak wades in to Ashes 'cheating' row saying Australia's behaviour 'not in the spirit of cricket'

Sunak answered questions on Tuesday
Sunak answered questions on Tuesday. Picture: Alamy

Mr Sunak also addressed the jump in mortgage rates after the average five-year fixed-rate reached 6% on Tuesday.

He said he remained committed to bringing inflation down, despite it proving to be harder than he initially thought it would be.

"It's clearly, inflation, proving more persistent than people anticipated," he said.

"But that doesn't mean that the plans and the policy options that have been deployed are the wrong ones, indeed they are the right ones."

That included the Bank of England's control of interest rates, the Government showing fiscal responsibility including public sector pay restraint and reforms on the supply side.

Mr Sunak added: "That's the right toolkit that you need to deploy in bringing inflation down, we just need to continue to stick to the course.

"That's not easy, that involves difficult decisions, but those are the right long-term decisions for the country because if we don't do that inflation will just get worse and last for longer and that doesn't help anybody."

Mr Sunak's grilling came as he marked six months since he revealed his targets as PM - to halve inflation this year, cut NHS waiting lists, get national debt falling, grow the economy, and "stop the boats".

With a general election due by January 2025, Mr Sunak faces an uphill battle to keep his promises to the electorate and turn around his party's polling slump.

The Prime Minister's spokesman said "these are rightly ambitious targets" that were "never going to be easy".

"It will be for the public to judge at the appropriate time, obviously not least at the next election," he said.

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