Rishi Sunak ‘working on new Rwanda treaty’ after deportation policy ruled unlawful – UK politics live | Politics
Rishi Sunak starts by saying at the start of the year he made halving inflation his number one priority. Today he has delivered, he says.
On Rwanda, he says the supreme court said that in principle deporting asylum seekers to a third country was legal, but that on other issues they wanted “additional certainty”.
(He is making it sound like the government won!)
He says the home secretary will make a statement. And he says, if necessary, he is prepared to “revisit our domestic legal frameworks” if that is needed to stop the boats.
UPDATE: Sunak said:
This morning also the supreme court gave a judgment on the Rwanda plan. They confirmed that the principle of removing asylum seekers to a safe third country is lawful.
There are further elements that they want additional certainty on and noted that changes can be delivered in the future to address those issues.
The government has been working already on a new treaty with Rwanda and we will finalise that in light of today’s judgment.
Furthermore, if necessary I am prepared to revisit our domestic legal frameworks.
Protesters have been removed from the House of Commons after holding up “Ceasefire now” signs during the king’s speech debate, PA Media reports. PA says:
A group of five or six people stood up and held aloft the messages as the shadow home secretary, Yvette Cooper, turned to the Israel-Hamas conflict in her speech.
Doorkeepers approached the group and removed them from the public gallery.
Extinction Rebellion (XR) claimed responsibility for the protest.
XR spokesperson Rosie Merrifield said: “Parliament must today demand that the government calls for an immediate ceasefire and commits to back an internationally arbitrated resolution which ensures the absolute protection of human rights for all, and lasting safety and peace for the Palestinian and Israeli people.”
Danny Kruger, co-chair of the New Conservatives group, which represents socially conservative MPs pushing for lower immigration and tax cuts, said the government should legislate immediately to assert UK sovereignty.
Speaking after meeting other MPs to discuss the supreme court judgment this morning, he called for legislation to override the ECHR. He said:
The government should immediately announce an intention to do what is necessary to insist on our sovereignty.
That means legislation to override the effect of the European court, of the ECHR itself and of other conventions including the refugee convention if necessary.
Miriam Cates, co-chair of the New Conservatives, would not say whether she maintained full confidence in the PM. Asked about this by journalists, she replied:
He has said he will do whatever it takes to stop the boats. The next few days will show whether we’ve got the legislative power and the political will to do that … We will support him to do whatever it takes.
In the Commons James Cleverly was quite happy to disassociate himself from Lee Anderson’s call for the government to just ignore the supreme court judgment. (See 1.13pm.)
But at the post-PMQs lobby briefing the PM’s press secretary was less willing to criticise the Tory deputy chairman. Asked about Anderson’s comment, she said MPs had “strong views” on this topic and she went on:
I think we appreciate that our MPs have strong views on this because, frankly, the country cares about this.
A reader asks:
How much money has the UK taxpayer paid on the government’s attempts to establish this scheme and defend it?
The government has already given £140m to Rwanda in relation to this scheme – £20m for it to spend on preparations for dealing with asylum seekers, and £120m for the economic development partnership that is part of the deal.
Dominic Grieve, the former Conservative attorney general who left the party over Brexit, told Bloomberg that it was “fantasy” to think that options like a notwithstanding bill would allow the UK to easily ignore the European convention on human rights.
Sir John Hayes, who chairs the Common Sense Group of rightwing Tory MPs and who works closely with Suella Braverman, told Radio 4’s the World at One that the government should introduce “notwithstanding” legislation to allow the European convention on human rights to be bypassed. It is called “notwithstanding” because it would say the government can do X notwithstanding the ECHR saying it’s illegal.
Hayes told the programme:
The court judgment does draw on the ECHR but not the ECHR alone.
We need to withdraw from that because it has [metamorphosed]. In its genesis, those who put together the European framework in the wake of the second world war rightly took the view that international cooperation was necessary to avoid the horrors that we experienced in the 20th century.
But it has [metamorphosed], it has become a means of defending all kinds of horrors, so, yes, we do need to withdraw.
In the short-term, a simpler process would be to have a piece of legislation that says, notwithstanding the obligations described, notwithstanding some of the things the court drew on today, that we will affect our policy.
I hope that is what will be brought forward. It is what some people have described as a ‘Plan B’.
In December last year 69 MPs voted for legislation of this kind when the Tory backbencher Jonathan Gullis triggered a division using the 10-minute rule bill process.
While much of Westminster’s focus today is on the Rwanda judgment and the Tory party crisis it has triggered, Keir Starmer is also battling to maintain discipline in his party, over the issue of Gaza.
Tonight could see the biggest rebellion of Starmer’s leadership as dozens of Labour MPs prepare to defy party whips and vote in favour of an amendment to the king’s speech calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. Somewhere between three and 15 frontbenchers are thought to be ready to join them.
Party managers hoped to stave off a rebellion by publishing their own amendment falling just short of calling for a ceasefire. But as of Tuesday afternoon, Starmer was still locked in talks with some of his shadow ministers trying to persuade them to abstain on the other one, being promoted by the Scottish National party.
Labour officials say “normal consequences will apply” for frontbenchers who defy the whip – ie they will be sacked. Starmer may have to conduct an emergency reshuffle of some of his more junior ministers later this week.
In the Commons James Cleverly’s statement is now over, and the king’s speech debate is just starting. Rosie Winterton, the deputy speaker, has just announced that three amendments are being put to a vote: amendment (r), the official Labour one; amendment (h), the official SNP one; and amendment (k), one of the Lib Dem ones.
That means there definitely will be a division on a ceasefire in Gaza.
Rishi Sunak has spoken to the Rwandan president, Paul Kagame, on the phone after the supreme court judgment, and expressed his “disappointment.” A Downing Street spokesperson said:
While he welcomed the court’s confirmation that the principle of sending illegal migrants to a safe third country is lawful, the prime minister expressed his disappointment at the overall outcome and recognised that there are challenges we must overcome.
He thanked President Kagame for his government’s work over the last 15 months and the extra assurances we have already agreed as they said they would continue to work together to address the court’s concerns.
Both leaders reiterated their firm commitment to making our migration partnership work and agreed to take the necessary steps to ensure this is a robust and lawful policy and to stop the boats as soon as possible.
Jonathan Gullis (Con) said his constituents wanted to know if the government would be wiling to disapply legal treaties like the European convention on human rights and the refugee convention in order to take back control of its borders
I don’t believe those things are necessary.
He said the government’s focus was on what was needed. There were no silver bullets, he said.
In the Commons, repeating the point he made in PMQs (see 12.32pm), Neil O’Brien (Con) said the government should change the law. He said he was against an “incremental approach”.
Cleverly repeated the point about how he did not believe in silver bullet options. (See 1.39pm.)