The Supreme Court rejected Sunak’s critical immigration plan on the 15th of November, 2023. He planned to deport people seeking asylum to Rwanda. Five judges at the Supreme Court unanimously held an appeal court ruling, that found there was a real risk of deported refugees having their claims in East African countries wrongly assessed or being returned to their source country and facing war or persecution. The ruling undermined the prime minister’s pledge to “stop the boats”.
The problem with Rwanda is that, although a reformed country today, due to the colonial legacy and division in 1994 there was a catastrophic incident that seems incomprehensible. In just 100 days, government forces, militias, and regular citizens carried out a genocide against the Tutsi social and ethnic minority population. An estimated 800,000 to one million Tutsis were killed, and sexual violence was committed against the Tutsi women and girls. The court deemed Rwanda to be an unsafe destination for asylum claimants to the UK.
The government claimed that the £140 million scheme to ship asylum seekers off to Rwanda would be a key deterrent for the growing number of involuntary migrants reaching the UK by illegally crossing the Channel. The ruling came after the Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, released an incendiary letter accusing the Prime Minister of breaking an agreement to insert clauses into the UK law that would have “blocked off” legal challenges under the ECHR and the human rights act. Braverman said “if we lose the Supreme Court, an outcome that I have consistently argued we must be prepared for, you will have wasted a year and an act of Parliament only to arrive back at square one”. Regardless, the polls show that immigration is a major concern of British Voters. later that day Sunak held a press conference, and announced emergency legislation to declare Rwanda safe, and hinted at further action, declaring he would not allow a “foreign court to block our ability to get these flights off”.
Although Sunak respects the ruling of the supreme court he still strives to cling to the Tory manifesto pledge for the United Kingdom to decrease the amounts of asylum seekers reaching the British waters. This has been a serious set-back for him.