'Ignore the laws and put the planes in the air now': Tory fury after Supreme Court rules against Rwanda migrant plan

15 November 2023, 12:07 | Updated: 15 November 2023, 12:27

Lee Anderson and Brendan Clarke-Smith have reacted negatively to the Rwanda ruling
Lee Anderson and Brendan Clarke-Smith have reacted negatively to the Rwanda ruling. Picture: Alamy/Getty

By Kit Heren

Conservative MPs have reacted with anger to the Supreme Court ruling against the government's plan to send irregular migrants to Rwanda.

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Various Tory backbenchers said the government should "ignore" the ruling or take steps to push back small boats physically, after the judges found that the Court of Appeal had been right to block the Rwanda plan because of safety concerns in the east African country.

Rishi Sunak said after the ruling that he remained committed to stopping small boats crossings despite the setback.

The PM also implied that the government could seek to send migrants to third countries that are, after the Supreme Court "confirmed that the principle of sending illegal migrants to a safe third country for processing is lawful."

The New Conservative grouping of recently-elected right-wing Tory MPs met after the ruling to discuss their response.

The MPs are also set to consult experts on whether leaving the European Convention of Human Rights, LBC's Natasha Clark reported.

Read more: Rishi's Rwanda plan is unlawful: Government's flagship policy to send migrants to Africa blocked by Supreme Court

Read more: Rishi Sunak vows to 'stop the boats' despite Rwanda ruling, as he says sending migrants to a third country is lawful

Lee Anderson
Lee Anderson. Picture: Alamy

Group member Bassetlaw MP Brendan Clarke-Smith shared an image of an infamous 'Enemies of the People' headline, originally published in 2016 after judges ruled that the government would need the consent of Parliament to give notice of triggering Article 50 Brexit.

He later added: "To be clear for context, this isn’t an attack on judges, but a reminder that the people of this country have felt their democratic choices haven’t been implemented.

"Like we did then with Brexit, we solved the problem in Parliament and it’s my intention to make this happen again".

Conservative deputy chairman Lee Anderson said the Government should "ignore the laws" and send migrants back the same day they arrive in the UK.

He described the Supreme Court judgment as a "dark day for the British people" and said ministers should "just put the planes in the air now and send them to Rwanda".

"I think the British people have been very patient, I've been very patient, and now they're demanding action. And this has sort of forced our hand a little bit now," he said.

"My take is we should just put the planes in the air now and send them to Rwanda and show strength.

"It's time for the Government to show real leadership and send them back, same day."

He added: "I think we should ignore the laws and send them straight back the same day."

The Hope Hostel accommodation in Kigali, Rwanda where migrants from the UK would have been taken
The Hope Hostel accommodation in Kigali, Rwanda where migrants from the UK would have been taken. Picture: Alamy

Jonathan Gullis, part of the New Conservatives grouping of Tory MPs, suggested that ministers bring in a "notwithstanding Bill" that would allow them to breach all treaties and conventions that the UK has signed up to - or physically push boats back into French waters in the Channel.

He said after the ruling: "Obviously disappointing, the decision today for the Government, but crucially we need to make sure that a plan B is quickly enacted in order to retain the trust of voters and to make sure that we do deliver on that pledge to stop the boats.

"Something that myself, Danny Kruger and Bill Cash pushed before which was a notwithstanding amendment, maybe bring that in as a notwithstanding Bill to disapply all conventions and treaties that we've signed up to, which have been a blocker, clearly, from the judgment of the Supreme Court in enabling to enact such policies."

Jonathan Gullis
Jonathan Gullis. Picture: Alamy
Brendan Clarke-Smith
Brendan Clarke-Smith. Picture: Alamy

Mr Gullis said that another option could be to "literally push boats back into French territorial waters ... or if not take more direct action and actually start returning people to the French shores rather than bringing them back over to British shores, regardless of any conflict that may end up with the French government."

Philip Davies said the ruling had sparked "a constitutional crisis".

Philip Davies
Philip Davies. Picture: Alamy

He told the Express: "It is clear that Parliament has passed all the necessary legislation for this to happen, and the job of judges is to implement the laws passed by Parliament, not to rule on whether or not they like the policy.

“If the judges don’t like the policy they should take off their robes and stand for election."We cannot have unelected judges determining whether they like a policy or not.

"We have had more and more judicial activism in recent years blurring the lines between politics and the law, and I fear the courts have badly overreached here, and I fear for the ramifications of this overreach."