Rishi Sunak denied his government’s immigration plan was a “shambles”, after the Supreme Court blocked his plan to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda.
Speaking at a press conference in Downing Street, the prime minister said he will introduce “emergency legislation” in an attempt to keep the scheme alive.
He suggested he was prepared to pull the UK out the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) if the Strasbourg court intervened down the line to block it.
Earlier on Wednesday, the Supreme Court ruled there was a real risk people sent to Rwanda would be sent back to the country from which they originally fled persecution, meaning it was unlawful.
Chris Mason, the BBC’s political editor, asked Sunak this afternoon: “Let’s cut to the quick prime minister, you gave your home secretary the heave-ho on Monday, the court has shredded your Rwanda plan today, it’s a total shambles isn’t it?”
Sunak said people should look at his “track record” when judging him. “We have done more in the last year to tackle illegal migration and stop the boats than any government has done in years.”
He said MPs would be asked to approve a new emergency law which would declare “Rwanda is safe” and stop further domestic legal challenges.
But it could still be blocked by the European Court of Human Rights, of which the UK is a member.
“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 necessary to get flights off,” he said.
Sunak said the government was already working on a new treaty with Rwanda that aimed to ensure refugees relocated from the UK to Rwanda will be protected against removal from Rwanda.
Sunak is already under intense pressure from right-wing Tory MPs to pull the UK out of the ECHR and other international agreements.
Lee Anderson, the deputy chairman of Conservative Party, even said Sunak should just “ignore the law” and send people to Rwanda anyway.
Suella Braverman, who Sunak sacked as home secretary on Monday, accused the PM of ignoring her demand that a “Plan B” be drawn up in favour of relying on “magical thinking” that the court would rule in the government’s favour.
Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, slammed Sunak during PMQs earlier today for wasting time and money on the scheme.
“He was told over and over again this would happen. That it wouldn’t work and it was just the latest Tory gimmick,” he said. “But he bet everything on it and now he is totally exposed. The central pillar of his government has crumbled beneath him.”