The UK Supreme Court has declared the British government’s contentious proposal to send asylum seekers to Rwanda as illegal, BBC reports.
This plan was devised to discourage individuals from making perilous journeys across the Channel in small boats.
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In Rwanda, individuals will be given the option to seek asylum within the country, return to their home country, or pursue asylum in a different nation, excluding the United Kingdom.
But Lord Reed, President of the court, says there is a “real risk” asylum seekers may be sent from Rwanda to the places they fled from.
Since being announced in 2022 by Boris Johnson, the plan has been thwarted by legal challenges – the High Court ruled it lawful before the Court of Appeal overturned the decision.
The Supreme Court has now confirmed the Court of Appeal’s decision.
The judgement does not ban sending migrants to another country, but it leaves the Rwanda scheme in tatters, and it is not clear which other nations are prepared to do a similar deal with the UK.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak responded by saying “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,” he added.
The government has already spent £140m on the plan but Wednesday’s ruling effectively ends the policy’s chances of ever being realised in its current form.
The Supreme Court ruling has emerged as a significant development in the midst of ongoing political fallout following the dismissal of Suella Braverman earlier this week.
Sunak dismissed her days before the court was to rule on the policy which she had championed as home secretary, after a row about her criticism of the Metropolitan Police.
In a highly critical letter to the prime minister, published on Tuesday, Mrs Braverman said the prime minister had “failed to prepare any sort of credible Plan B” in the event the Supreme Court halts the policy.
The five-judge panel said, “Nevertheless, asking ourselves whether there were substantial grounds for believing that a real risk of refoulement existed at the relevant time, we have concluded that there were.
“The changes needed to eliminate the risk of refoulement may be delivered in the future, but they have not been shown to be in place now.
“The home secretary’s appeal is therefore dismissed.”
According to the BBC, more than 100,000 people have arrived in the UK via illegal crossings since 2018, though the number appears to be falling this year.
In 2022, 45,000 people reached the UK in small boats. The total is on course to be lower for 2023, with the total for the year so far below 28,000 as of November 12.