Date pencilled in for the first Rwanda flight – if the Home Office can secure victory in the Supreme Court
- The Rwanda removal flight is expected to take place on Saturday, February 24
The first Rwanda removal flight will take place in late February if the Home Office secures victory in the Supreme Court, the Mail can reveal.
Civil servants have been ordered to gear up for an inaugural charter flight on Saturday, February 24. The red-letter day has been set in anticipation of the Home Office overturning a legal ruling which blocked the policy on human rights grounds.
A decision from the Supreme Court is due by mid-December.
Preparations for Rwanda flights are proceeding even though the Tories believe there is a ’60 per cent chance’ the Home Office will lose its appeal, throwing the policy into fresh turmoil.
The first attempted Rwanda flight, in June last year, was grounded by a flurry of legal challenges by migrants which led to the European Court of Human Rights granting a last-minute injunction.
Civil servants have been ordered to gear up for an inaugural charter flight on Saturday, February 24 (Pictured: The plane to be the first to transport migrants to Rwanda)
Since then, thousands of migrants who have crossed the Channel on small boats have been sent ‘notices of intent’, warning they could be handed a one-way ticket to Kigali.
Officials are working to select a group for the first plane. If the selection process moves to the next stage after the Supreme Court gives a green light, the Home Office is expecting further ‘micro appeals’ from migrants.
The new Illegal Migration Act has severely restricted the scope for bringing legal challenges in this country under asylum and modern slavery laws.
But officials anticipate that lawyers for migrants who are selected for the initial flight will launch further legal appeals in the Strasbourg court.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will have to decide whether to activate measures in the new Act which allow ministers to ignore immigration injunctions issued by Strasbourg.
It was reported earlier this month that Attorney General Victoria Prentis has indicated her opposition to such a move.
However, a Conservative source told The Mail on Sunday they believed the country’s highest court is more than likely to rule that the Rwanda deal is unlawful, meaning no flights can take place.
It would lead to intense pressure from within the Tory Party for Britain to leave the European Convention on Human Rights.
Thousands of migrants who have crossed the Channel on small boats have been sent ‘notices of intent’, warning they could be handed a one-way ticket to Kigali
The first attempted Rwanda flight, in June last year, was grounded by a flurry of legal challenges by migrants which led to the European Court of Human Rights granting a last-minute injunction
‘There is growing pessimism about the Supreme Court,’ the Tory source said.
‘It’s finely balanced but probably 60-40 against a win. If we lose, it’s got to be election campaign mode on getting us out of Strasbourg – put the old Vote Leave gang back together and run it relentlessly.’
The work selecting the most likely migrants for an inaugural flight is being spearheaded by the Home Office’s new ‘relocations and returns’ unit.
So far this year, 26,116 small-boat migrants have reached Britain – down 30 per cent on the same time last year.
The £140 million Rwanda deal sets out how irregular migrants will be transferred to the East African nation to claim asylum there rather than in the UK, in a bid to deter people from making the perilous crossing at the hands of ruthless human traffickers.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will have to decide whether to activate measures in the new Act which allow ministers to ignore immigration injunctions issued by Strasbourg
The agreement is the key element of Home Secretary Suella Braverman’s plan to ‘detain and swiftly remove’ migrants who arrive in the UK illegally.
As a fall-back option, up to five other countries – all believed to be in Africa – are in negotiations with the Home Office to take asylum seekers under schemes similar to the Rwanda deal.
A Home Office spokesman said: ‘Our relationship with Rwanda is strong and we remain completely committed to delivering this policy.’
Source: Read Full Article