Rishi Sunak vows to overrule European judges if they try to block Rwanda flights

Rishi Sunak vows to overrule European judges if they try to block Rwanda flights

Rishi Sunak sits down with Christopher Hope

Christopher Hope

By Christopher Hope

Published: 15/01/2024

- 13:09

Updated: 15/01/2024

- 14:30

The Prime Minister told GB News he will not let a foreign court stop the Rwanda plan from working

Rishi Sunak has made clear that he will to over rule European human rights judges who try to stop the UK flying small boat migrants to Rwanda.

In an exclusive interview with GB News in Essex, the Prime Minister also attacked what he described as "political smears" about his personal wealth after Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer told MPs last week that Sunak "does not get Britain".

Sunak's remarks on migration are aimed squarely at dozens of Conservative MPs who want him to toughen the Rwanda Bill to ensure that it stops the boats crossing illegally to the UK from France.

Asked directly if he would over-rule judges from the European Court of Human Rights if they tried to block any Rwanda flights - so -called Rule 39 orders - Sunak replied: "I won't let a foreign court stop us from getting flights off and this deterrent working.

WATCH: Jacob Rees-Mogg says, 'We must STOP the boats!'

"There's a clause in the Bill that says, very specifically, that it is for ministers to decide whether to comply with Rule 39 rulings as they're called, I would not have put that clause in the Bill if I was not prepared to use it.

"Now look I don't think Strasbourg will intervene because of the checks and balances in our system. And of course, there will be individual circumstances that people want us to consider on the facts.

"But if you're asking me you know, are there circumstances in which I'm prepared to ignore those Rule 39s? Then yes, of course there are."

More than 60 Tory MPs - including former Home Secretary Suella Braverman and ex-Immigration minister Robert Jenrick - have proposed amendments to strengthen the legislation to guarantee that migrants can be flown to Rwanda.

GB News understands that MPs from the two largest groupings of the so-called "five families" - the New Conservatives and the European Research Group - are due to meet tonight to discuss strategy ahead of the key votes on the Rwanda Bill tomorrow and Wednesday.

Last week Braverman told GB News that she would vote against the legislation until it was amended to make it tougher by Sunak.In the interview Sunak opened the door to more talks when he said he was "happy to have a dialogue with anyone who thinks they might have an idea that will improve the effectiveness of the Bill whilst making sure that it's still legally compliant [and] maintains Rwanda's participation in the scheme".

Sunak said his plan to curb illegal migration was based on fairness adding that the deaths of five migrants in the Channel over the weekend shows that showed that the "compassionate thing to do is to tackle illegal migration".

He added: "For me, it's about fairness. Fundamentally illegal migration just isn't fair. We're a country where we play by the rules we put in our fair share, and we wait our turn.

"Illegal migration undermines that sense of fairness, which I think is fundamental to our national character, and the trust on which our system is built and it's for that reason, especially that we really must tackle illegal migration."

Asked if he "gets" concerns about illegal migration, Sunak said: "Of course."

He continued: "I voted for Brexit and I supported Brexit partly because I think it's important that we have control over the legal migration.

"I say that it's coming from a family of immigrants, right? This is about having a sustainable level of migration and making sure that we're also investing in jobs for people here at home.

"Sunak has been criticised as being out of touch because of his wealth - he is one of the richest MPs in Parliament after a successful career as a hedge fund manager.

However he hit back, saying: "I never heard that during the pandemic when I was Chancellor, when I stood up and announced the furlough scheme. No one said that then, right?

"Fundamentally, people judge you by the content of your character and your actions and that's how people will judge me.

"My family emigrated to this country without very much. My parents worked really hard to provide a better life for me and my brother and sister.

"I worked really hard for everything that I've got - that’s the type of country I believe in. If people want to use that as a political smear or attack, I actually think it speaks volumes about their lack of ambition for our country, than it does about me and my background."

Sunak brushed off a YouGov poll today which is predicting a 1997-style wipe out for the Tories at the general election later this year, saying: "There's lots of polls all the time, there'll be hundreds of polls between now and the election.

"The only poll that counts is the one that actually happens and the general election, and the choice of that election is clear.

"You can stick with our plan that is working for you go back to square one with Keir Starmer."

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