The Rwanda Plan

Danielle Cohen
By Danielle Cohen Immigration Law Solicitor Linkedin
Danielle Cohen has over 20 years of experience as a lawyer and a reputation for offering professional, honest and expert advice.
23 November 2023

The Supreme Court ruled that the Government’s plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda was unlawful, delivering a major blow to Prime Minster Rishi Sunak’s pledge to stop people arriving in small boats.

What is the Rwanda plan?

Under the plan, anyone who arrives in Britain illegally will face removal to Rwanda where the asylum claim would be assessed. The first flight was scheduled for June 2022 but that was blocked by a last minute injunction from the European Court of Human Rights, barring any removals until the conclusion of the legal action in Britain. The Supreme Court last week unanimously rejected the Government’s appeal against an earlier ruling that migrants could be sent to Rwanda because it could not be considered a safe third country.

What are the Government’s options?

Suella Braverman launched an attack on Rishi Sunak saying that he failed to prepare any sort of Plan B if the Rwanda programme was to fail in the Court. Government officials stated that there are options, including negotiating a new deal with Rwanda and upgrading the agreement from a memorandum of understanding and including new safeguards. The reason the Supreme Court refused the application was because the Court was fearful that there were not enough measures to prevent anyone from being returned to their home country. It is possible that if such measures are in place the plan will still be implemented. Other options include adding new nations such as Turkey or Egypt to the list of so called safe countries, making it easier to reject asylum claims and return individuals to their home country.

Will Britain leave the European Convention on Human Rights?

There is a possibility that Britain would consider leaving the European Convention on Human Rights if it stops the Rwanda scheme.

Why is the Rwanda policy so important to Suella Braverman and Rishi Sunak?

After becoming Prime Minister last October Mr Sunak made the plea of stopping the boats as one of his five priorities. The United Kingdom is spending a large amount of money every year dealing with asylum applications and the cost of accommodations. According to Government figures in August, the backlog of asylum applications waiting for an initial decision hits a record high of more than 134,000 people, or 175,000 once dependants were included. Australia pioneered the concept of holding asylum seekers in offshore detention centres and Denmark signed a similar agreement with Rwanda but has yet to send migrants there, Britain wants to join the club