The Court of Appeal has ruled that Rwanda is not a “safe place” to send asylum seekers. Two of the three judges have concluded that Rwanda’s practice of frequently returning refugees to their countries of origin, (refoulement), no matter how unsafe, means that people deported there will be at risk.
A legal battle is inevitable, as Rishi Sunak has announced that the government now plans to appeal to the Supreme Court.
A similar agreement between Israel and Rwanda has failed. The Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, found that asylum seekers sent by Israel were living on the streets, while the majority had been smuggled over the border into Uganda.
Suella Braverman has criticised the verdict, declaring that it is “rigged”, and “disappointing for the majority of the British people who have repeatedly voted for controlled immigration”. However, repeated polls have shown that people are divided over the Rwanda scheme.
Polling has suggested that just 10% think that the optimal way of dealing with migrants in small boats is to deport them to Rwanda. 39% would prefer the government “to make it easier for people to apply for asylum in Britain from overseas”.
Research by King’s College, London, has revealed that Britain is the most relaxed country in the world regarding immigration. A majority believes people should be able to come to Britain so long as jobs are available; fewer than a third wants strict limits on those coming in.
Meanwhile, the evening after court’s decision was announced, not one person in the BBC Question Time audience thought the Rwanda plan was ethical or workable. Yet according to the presenter, Fiona Bruce, the majority of the audience were Conservative voters.
The ruling has significant implications for the Illegal Migration bill. According to Peter Walsh of Oxford University’s Migration Watch, the bill is “predicated on the idea that the UK will remove asylum seekers to safe third countries…If there are no safe countries accepting the UK’s asylum seekers, the core idea behind the policy can’t be implemented”.