The UK Government’s plans to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda are unlawful, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled on Wednesday.
The all-male panel of judges at the UK’s highest court spent about a month considering legal arguments over whether the plans are lawful or not.
And justices have now rejected the UK Government’s appeal over its policy of removing asylum seekers to the east African nation if they arrive by unauthorised means.
It comes a day after Suella Braverman, who was sacked as home secretary earlier this week, sent a letter to Sunak saying he has no credible back-up to “stop the boats”.
The Illegal Migration Act brought into law the UK Government’s policy of sending some asylum seekers to Rwanda.
However, the plans announced in April 2022 have been held up in the courts, with no deportation flights having taken place despite £140m already being handed to Kigali.
In a summary of the judgment read out by Supreme Court President Lord Reed on Wednesday, the justices found there would be a risk of genuine asylum seekers being returned by Rwanda to the home country from where they fled.
The flagship asylum policy was first announced by Boris Johnson back in April 2020, but not a single migrant has been removed to Kigali after a series of legal challenges.
Sunak will deliver his verdict on the ruling at Prime Minister’s Questions, before new home secretary James Cleverly gives further details.
Braverman warned after her sacking as home secretary that there is no “credible Plan B” if the Supreme Court rejects the UK Government appeal.
In a unanimous decision by the five top justices, they agreed the High Court was entitled to rule that there is “substantial” grounds to believe there is a “real risk” of refugees being returned home.
But Lord Reed made clear the judgment was only on the current risk in Rwanda and said that the changes needed to reduce the risk “may be delivered in the future”.
Sunak said the UK Government will now consider its next steps.
He said: “This was not the outcome we wanted, but we have spent the last few months planning for all eventualities and we remain completely committed to stopping the boats.
“Crucially, the Supreme Court – like the Court of Appeal and the High Court before it – has confirmed that the principle of sending illegal migrants to a safe third country for processing is lawful. This confirms the Government’s clear view from the outset.
“Illegal migration destroys lives and costs British taxpayers millions of pounds a year. We need to end it and we will do whatever it takes to do so.
“Because when people know that if they come here illegally, they won’t get to stay then they will stop coming altogether, and we will stop the boats.”
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