PM says Labour must not ‘stand in the way’ of Rwanda as he refuses to rule out small boats election

Rishi Sunak has today called on Labour not to “stand in the way” of legislation to enable flights to Rwanda to begin after the Supreme Court’s ruling this week. 

The Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that the Rwanda scheme is “unlawful”, prompting Rishi Sunak to change his approach to his government’s flagship deportations scheme. 

Today, he vowed to “work night and day” to ensure domestic courts cannot “systemically” block flights to Kigali.

Sunak said: “I think people just want the problem fixed. That’s what I’m here to do, and this year, we’ve already got the numbers down by a third.

“That’s because I’ve got new deals with the French, a new deal with Albania. We’re working with Turkey and Bulgaria, multiple other countries. We’re tackling the criminal gangs, we’re cutting through the backlog.

“We’re getting people out of hotels, saving taxpayers money, and as I said, numbers down by a third shows real progress”.

In a press conference on Wednesday, Rishi Sunak said he did “not agree with the decision” of the Supreme Court, but that he “respects” and “accepts” it. 

He confirmed that the UK is working on a new treaty with Rwanda to prevent people being deported after being removed there from the UK.

He also announced that the government will introduce “emergency legislation” to confirm that Rwanda is safe.

Turning to the European Court of Human Rights, Sunak said: “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”.

Does Rishi Sunak have a Rwanda ‘Plan B’? Because his backbenchers do

Asked this morning what he might do if the House of Lords blocks his proposed treaty and legislation, with a general election being one option, the PM said: “It doesn’t have to take a long time to get legislation through — and that is a question for the Labour Party.

“We’re determined to get this through as quickly as possible. So the real question is: is the Labour Party going to stand in the way and stop this from happening, or are they going to work with us and support this bill so we can get it through as quickly as possible?

“I know that the British people want this problem gripped. I know the British people will want this new law to pass so we can get flights off to Rwanda.

“So really, the question is for Keir Starmer and the Labour Party, why don’t they?”.

The PM also refused to rule out asking MPs to spend some of their Christmas break dealing with “emergency legislation” on Rwanda.

This was a proposal made by Suella Braverman in an op-ed for the Telegraph published yesterday evening. 

He said: “I think we are prepared to do whatever is necessary to ensure that we can get this in place and get flights off the ground.

“I wouldn’t speculate on parliamentary process but I cannot impress [enough] the importance that the prime minister places on this necessary legislation to deliver for the public on the important priority of stopping the boats”.

In her Telegraph op-ed, Braverman out a number of “tests” that Rishi Sunak‘s “emergency legislation” on the Rwanda deportations plan must meet in order to be successful.

She said this means disapplying “the entirety of the Human Rights Act and European Convention on Human Rights, and other relevant international obligations, or legislation, including the Refugee Convention”.

Senior Conservative likens Suella Braverman’s Rwanda proposal to ‘what Putin and Xi do’