Govt 'absolutely determined' to make sure Rwanda flights take off before general election, home secretary tells LBC

16 November 2023, 08:04 | Updated: 16 November 2023, 08:24

James Cleverly speaks to LBC's Nick Ferrari
James Cleverly speaks to LBC's Nick Ferrari. Picture: LBC/Alamy
Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

The UK Government is "absolutely determined" to make sure migrant flights to Rwanda take off before the next general election, the new Home Secretary, James Cleverly, has told LBC.

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Supreme Court Judges ruled yesterday morning the plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda is unlawful because they can't be sure the country is safe.

The Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has since pledged to bring in emergency legislation to "stop our policy being repeatedly blocked".

Speaking to LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast, Mr Cleverly also insisted that the government's Rwanda policy was just "part of the plan" to reduce illegal migration.

"In the minds of many, many people, this is a core issue. The primary job of the government is to defend the people of the country," he told LBC.

"This will be a key election issue. This is why we are determined to continue making this work."

Asked by Nick if the flights will take off before the next general election, Mr Cleverly responded: "We're absolutely determined to make sure that happens."

James Cleverly is 'determined' that Rwanda flights will go ahead

He added: "I make no apology spending money protecting this nation, it's the primary responsibility of government.

"Rwanda is having a deterrent effect. When the flights start it will be even stronger. That does take money."

Yesterday, Rishi Sunak vowed to introduce emergency legislation to prevent further legal challenges to the government's Rwanda plan.

"I will not allow a foreign court to block these flights. I am prepared to do what is necessary. I will not take the easy way out," the Prime Minister said.

Mr Sunak said the British people's patience "can only be stretched so thin, and they expect the boats to be stopped."

"We may still face challenges from the ECHR [European Court of Human Rights].

"I told Parliament I'm prepared to change our laws. I will not allow a foreign court to block the flights."

Read More: Emergency laws needed to ‘stop the boats’, says sacked Suella Braverman after court rules against Rwanda plan

Read More: 'I will not allow a foreign court to block Rwanda flights,' says Sunak as he announces emergency legislation

In a unanimous Supreme Court ruling, five of the UK's most senior judges ruled that the Government's plan to deport some asylum seekers to Rwanda is unlawful.

The UK's highest court rejected the Home Office's argument that problems past and present with Rwanda's asylum system are "not a reliable guide" to how asylum seekers sent from the UK under the plans would be treated.

In their ruling, which the other justices agreed with, Lords Reed and Lloyd-Jones said Rwanda's history "cannot be effectively ignored or sidelined" as suggested.

They said there was "no dispute" that the Rwandan government entered into its deal with the UK "in good faith", with strong incentives to follow the terms of the arrangement.

Migrants brought on shore by the border force at Dover port in 2020
Migrants brought on shore by the border force at Dover port in 2020. Picture: Alamy

Mr Sunak's comments come not long after sacked former home secretary Suella Braverman took to Twitter to demand that Rishi Sunak introduces "emergency legislation" blocking off the European Convention on Human Rights.

The Prime Minister is facing unrest in the Tory ranks after the scheme to send asylum seekers to the east African nation was ruled to be unlawful by five of the UK's most senior judges.

Ms Braverman said the Government must "legislate or admit defeat" as she called for measures to override both the ECHR, the Human Rights Act and other "routes of legal challenge".

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