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Legal Setbacks Threaten Sunak’s Rwanda Plan: A Tug-of-War Over Migration and Human Rights

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Rishi Sunak's strategy involving Rwanda faces potential disruption, and he cannot point fingers at 'leftie lawyers.'

The Prime Minister argues that his contentious Rwanda scheme will deter illegal entry of asylum seekers into the UK. However, a new legal challenge, and potentially additional ones, could weaken this key assertion.

Principal political reporter @joncraig

Monday, May 13, 2024, 4:

Oh no! Rishi Sunak's Safety of Rwanda Act was intended to avoid these kinds of legal disputes.

The legislation had only just been enacted last month when the government faced its initial defeat in the legal arena.

Verdict undermines assertions regarding Rwanda strategy – live coverage

The decision from the High Court in Belfast addresses the earlier legislation known as the Illegal Migration Act, which was enacted last year to tackle the issue of small boats.

Despite an evidently frustrated Mr. Sunak asserting that this development has no impact and that the government plans to appeal, it spells trouble for the Prime Minister and could pave the way for additional legal challenges.

Judge Michael Humphreys appeared to indicate that the Rwanda policy had issues on multiple fronts, specifically highlighting three significant flaws.

Firstly, it conflicts with Tony Blair's Good Friday Agreement, secondly with Mr. Sunak's Windsor Framework, and thirdly with the European Convention on Human Rights, which is greatly disliked by numerous Conservative MPs.

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"I knew it!"

A determined Mr. Sunak asserts that he will not be sidetracked from his objective to initiate flights to Rwanda.

Is that so, Prime Minister?

Tensions are escalating between the British and Irish governments regarding the Rwanda policy. Ireland has warned that it might return migrants who move from Northern Ireland to the Republic of Ireland back to the UK.

Mr. Sunak is now also facing criticism from his previous allies in the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), with the party's acting leader, Gavin Robinson, reacting to the verdict from the Belfast court by essentially saying, "I warned you!"

He reasonably highlights that the government overlooked prior alerts from the DUP about the potential for such legal disputes and also dismissed his party’s efforts to modify the Safety of Rwanda Bill in both the Commons and the Lords to eliminate gaps in the law.

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Is it a successful preventive measure

Mr. Sunak is likely to attribute this legal defeat to "leftie lawyers" determined to thwart his "stop the boats" policy. However, the DUP are far from being left-wing, and the Prime Minister would prefer to avoid further conflicts with them.

Despite his confident reaction to the verdict from Belfast, if more legal disputes arise, they might weaken the government's assertion that the Rwanda Safety Bill will truly serve as a strong deterrent.

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