Rishi Sunak calls emergency press conference: Prime Minister to make announcement from No10 after days of crisis

Rishi Sunak

Rishi Sunak has called a Downing Street press conference this afternoon, to respond to the damning ruling on the Government's Rwanda plan

Millie Cooke

By Millie Cooke

Published: 15/11/2023

- 10:59

Updated: 15/11/2023

- 13:46

This comes after judges at the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the Government's pact to send asylum seekers to Rwanda is illegal

Rishi Sunak has called a Downing Street press conference this afternoon, to respond to the damning ruling on the Government's Rwanda plan.

He will address the public at 4.45pm today.

Home Secretary James Cleverly will also give a statement to the House of Commons this afternoon.

This morning, judges at the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the Government's pact to send asylum seekers to Rwanda is illegal.

The decision is a major blow to the Government, which had been relying on the pact as the crux of its plan to slash illegal migration figures.

WATCH: Rwanda asylum plan REJECTED as Supreme Court deems it UNLAWFUL

It comes after the Government lurched from crisis to crisis throughout the week.

Just yesterday, former Home Secretary Suella Braverman accused Rishi Sunak of a "betrayal" over his failure to stop the boats.

Meanwhile, a group of 2019 Tory MPs, the New Conservatives, published a stinging letter yesterday expressing concern that the party has strayed from the mission it was elected for. In a joint letter, Miriam Cates and Danny Kruger accused the Prime Minister of "walking away from 2019 voters".

Today, former Home Secretary Priti Patel described the Supreme Court's decision as "disappointing".

She added: "I am confident that the plans could have been implemented in way that complied with our own domestic law and our international obligations and the Supreme Court confirmed that changes could be made to bring it into effect.

"The Home Office must now take the necessary steps to ensure that this policy is implemented as our partnership with Rwanda is the single biggest measure to deter illegal migration into the UK and to break the business model of the evil people smuggling gangs putting lives at risk through small boat crossings."

But Patel's predecessor, Suella Braverman, claimed Sunak "rejected" available options she presented to him, such as "blocking off" the European Convention on Human Rights and the Human Rights Act.

She said: "I was clear from day one that if you did not wish to leave the ECHR, the way to securely and swiftly deliver our Rwanda partnership would be to block off the ECHR, the HRA and any other obligations which inhibit our ability to remove those with no right to be in the UK. Our deal expressly referenced ‘notwithstanding clauses’ to that effect.

"Your rejection of this path was not merely a betrayal of our agreement, but a betrayal of your promise to the nation that you would do “whatever it takes” to stop the boats."

But dismissing thoughts that exiting the ECHR would be a silver bullet for the migrant pact, the judge said it is "not only the ECHR which is relevant to this case".

Lord Reed said: "There are also other international treaties which also prohibit the return of asylum seekers to their countries of origin without a proper examination of their claims".

Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg said the Supreme Court’s rejection of the Government's Rwanda deportation policy presents a “real test”, calling for Sunak to propose legislation to resolve the issue.

He said: “Unless we deal with the application of European human rights in the UK, we will not get flights to Rwanda. If we don't get flights to Rwanda, we will not deal with the small boats problem.

“This is a real test for His Majesty's Government and what they need to do, what's in its power to do, is to introduce primary legislation that will override all these obstacles.

“That's the basic constitutional principle of our country, that parliamentary sovereignty means that the highest court in the land is not the Supreme Court, it's the High Court of Parliament.”

Speaking to GB News, he continued: “It's certainly not good news and the Government will need to legislate now to make the Rwanda scheme work.

“The key here is that Parliament can legislate to say anything. It can legislate to amend the Human Rights Act, it can legislate to override the European Convention on Human Rights.

“Essentially, this judgement boils down to who do you trust to decide whether Rwanda is safe? Do you trust the judgement of the Home Secretary, or do you trust the judgement of a United Nations agency which has had all sorts of problems?”

Delivering his judgement, Lord Reed noted that "the court of appeal was right to overturn the high court's decision and to consider the evidence again for itself".

He cited concerns about "media and political freedom", the country's "poor human rights record" and a "misunderstanding of its obligations under the Refugee Convention".

Lord Reed said the “legal test” in the case was whether there were “substantial grounds” for believing that asylum seekers sent to Rwanda would be at “real risk” of being sent back to the countries they came from where they could face “ill treatment”.

He said: “In the light of the evidence which I have summarised, the Court of Appeal concluded that there were such grounds.


“We are unanimously of the view that they were entitled to reach that conclusion. Indeed, having been taken through the evidence ourselves, we agree with their conclusion.”

Sonya Sceats, chief executive at charity Freedom from Torture said the decision is a "victory for reason and compassion".

She said: “We are delighted that the Supreme Court has affirmed what caring people already knew: the UK Government’s ‘cash for humans’ deal with Rwanda is not only deeply immoral, but it also flies in the face of the laws of this country.”

Meanwhile, Detention Action called for new Home Secretary James Cleverly to "abandon this policy altogether, rather than repeating this mistake by seeking a similar agreement with another country”.

Its director James Wilson said: “We welcome the decision of the Supreme Court and are deeply relieved that people seeking asylum here will not be handed over to an authoritarian regime.

“We are proud to have been one of the first claimants to bring this historic legal challenge, in solidarity with the thousands of people threatened with removal to Rwanda.

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