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The Supreme Court’s decision requires fresh thinking – not emergency legislation


Time, reflection and cool heads are needed to fully digest the ruling amid the heat of a turbulent few days in Westminster.

In a lightning quick and clear decision, the UK Supreme Court has unanimously upheld the Court of Appeal’s decision that the government’s ‘Rwanda policy’ is unlawful.

The UK’s highest court ruled that whilst the Rwandan government entered into the arrangement with the UK in good faith, the evidence shows ‘there are substantial grounds for believing that asylum seekers would face a real risk of ill-treatment by reason of refoulement (or return) to their country of origin if they were removed to Rwanda’.  

This was the long-awaited finale of proceedings with great significance for the UK government’s ‘small boats policy’. Coming ahead of a looming election, and following the sacking of the policy’s key protagonist, Suella Braverman, a negative result would inevitably be politically charged.

The prime minister’s reaction, announcing emergency legislation to declare Rwanda a safe country – and reframing the decision as a battle with the European Court of Human Rights – was intended to demonstrate his resolution to carry the policy through.

But it’s unclear how the proposal will comply with the Supreme Court’s decision. A new approach on the important migration issue is badly needed.

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