Boris refuses to rule out leaving European human rights treaty after Rwanda fight

15 June 2022, 09:12 | Updated: 15 June 2022, 20:36

Boris Johnson has refused to rule out a dramatic withdrawal from the European Convention on Human Rights
Boris Johnson has refused to rule out a dramatic withdrawal from the European Convention on Human Rights. Picture: Alamy

By Megan Hinton

Boris Johnson has not ruled out leaving the European Convention on Human Rights after the the Government saw its Rwanda deportation flight get blocked.

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Downing Street said "all options are on the table" after the European Court of Human Rights' intervention.

The court, which is separate to the European Union, could now be in the Government's firing line – despite the gravity attached to such a decision, which has been a key part of the post Second World War order.

Asked if withdrawing from the European Convention on Human Rights was on the table, a No10 spokesman said: "We keep all options on the table as part of our work to address the issues raised by the repeated and sometimes meritless claims that we see consistently with removal flights, while obviously making sure that we continue to protect the vulnerable."

The European Court of Human Rights [ECtHR] was set up in 1959 to rule on applications the allege civil and political rights that are set out on the European Convention on Human Rights, a treaty binding 46 states in the Council of Europe.

It is separate from the European Union and is unaffected by Brexit.

The court made an interim measure in a last ditch intervention over an Iraqi asylum seeker who was due on the first flight to Rwanda on Tuesday.

Inflatable boats are towed into the marina after a group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover
Inflatable boats are towed into the marina after a group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover. Picture: Alamy

It came after legal bids failed in the High Court and Supreme Court.

He should now not be sent to Rwanda until the legality of the Government’s policy is determined in Britain’s courts.

A full High Court review of the policy is expected in July.

In its ruling, the ECtHR acknowledged concerns about access to "fair and efficient procedures for the determination of refugee status" in Rwanda, the fact that the African nation is not part of the European human rights framework and the absence of "any legally enforceable mechanism" to return the asylum seeker to the UK if there is a successful legal challenge to the policy.

Home Secretary Priti Patel, who is responsible for the scheme, said: "What is concerning of course is that our domestic courts have been very transparent in their decision-making and the way in which they communicated their verdicts, in the High Court, Supreme Court and also the Court of Appeal.

"It is concerning obviously about the opaque nature in which last night's appeal was conducted by the European Court of Human Rights, in the way in which they informed the UK Government around one individual.

"Of course it is right that we spend time now going back to that court to actually get the grounds upon which they made their decision."

It comes as a total of 444 people were detected crossing the English Channel in small boats on Tuesday, the Ministry of Defence said.

This is the highest number of people since 562 were recorded on April 14 earlier this year.

Some 11 boats were detected on Tuesday, which suggests an average of around 40 people crossed the Channel per boat.

Migrants including a heavily pregnant woman and babies have arrived on the shores of Dover on four ships rescue ships after hundreds embarked on the dangerous crossing.

The Dover RNLI lifeboat and the Border Force ship Vigilant brought around 92 migrant adults ashore while 12 children were also spotted leaving the boats.

A further 50 people were brought to shore in Dover on the Border Force ship Hurricane.

Read more: 'Kick these b*****ds into touch': Tory fury at Euro judges for Rwanda flight block

While the people on the Vigilant were a mixture of men and women, adults and children, almost all of the people brought ashore from the Hurricane were men, mostly appearing to be in their late teens or 20s.

A fourth Border Force ship Typhoon also docked in dover carrying men, women and children.

When asked if they knew they could be sent to Rwanda, one migrant replied "What? No" while others looked on in apparent confusion.

Asked where they came from refugees said Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

More than 10,000 people have made the dangerous crossing so far this year.

The European Court of Human Rights that led to the cancellation of the first deportation flight taking asylum seekers to Rwanda is only a "temporary setback", a Government minister said.

Work and Pensions Minister Guy Opperman said he did not believe the ruling was "terminal" to the Government's case.

"As I understand the decision last night, this is a temporary stay of the flight and the people going on the flight for there to be greater consideration of the individual circumstances of the situation by the UK courts," he told LBC.

"It is not 'You cannot do this'. It is a temporary stay that will then be considered by the UK courts on an ongoing basis. I don't believe that it is terminal judgment to the Government's cause."

Read more: Refugee who was 'raped and beaten' after deportation brands Rwanda plan a 'death sentence'

A soldier carries a child from a group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover
A soldier carries a child from a group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover. Picture: Alamy

Previously, the Home Office said it expected legal challenges but remained "determined to deliver this new partnership" with Rwanda and insisted the policy "fully complies with international and national law".

While Downing Street said Boris Johnson remains confident the policy is legal.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said in a statement that she was "disappointed" with the outcome of the scheduled flight on Tuesday.

But she remained determined to see the plans through, adding "preparation for the next flight begins now".

Former Conservative leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith told LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast the European Court of Human Rights' decision to halt Tuesday evening's flight was a "farce".

"It has turned into a legal farce really, because all our courts have agreed that the government may go ahead with this including the Supreme Court, to be overruled by a court that had no representations made to it and just intervened on the back of stuff it had read," he said.

On a Tory WhatsApp group, one MP expressed their anger at the ECHR saying: "It's time we kicked these b*****ds  into touch. For once I won't apologise for my French," according to the MailOnline.