The Supreme Court’s five judges ruled that the Government’s flagship small boats policy of deporting asylum seekers to Rwanda for processing was unlawful.
Lord Reed, the Supreme Court president, agreed there were “substantial” grounds to believe there was a “real risk” of refugees being deported from Rwanda to their countries of origin, where they could face “ill treatment”.
Mr Sunak used a press conference to say he respected the court’s decision, while unveiling his Plan B for how to revive the deportation flights policy, which he said would “end the merry-go-round”.
He said a new treaty with Rwanda, which government officials have been working on for weeks, would be struck to clarify that asylum seekers sent there from the UK would not then be sent home.
He then outlined emergency laws that would “enable Parliament to confirm that, with our new treaty, Rwanda is safe”.
“It will ensure that people cannot further delay flights by bringing systemic challenges in our domestic courts and stop our policy being repeatedly blocked,” he added.
No 10 believes both the treaty and the new law, which they hope to pass in Parliament before the spring, will meet the Supreme Court’s concerns and mean the policy is deemed lawful.
But Mr Sunak went on to address fears that the European Court in Strasbourg, which rules on the ECHR, could step in to block flights even after the new law passes.
In June 2022, the European Court intervened to block Rwanda flights from taking off on the grounds it could breach the ECHR. A lengthy battle over the policy’s legality then followed.
The Prime Minister said: “Let me tell everyone now – I will not allow a foreign court to block these flights.
“If the Strasbourg court chooses to intervene against the express wishes of Parliament, I am prepared to do what is necessary to get flights off. I will not take the easy way out.”