Rwanda plan is 'not the be all and end all' says James CleverlyNovember 25, 2023
Rwanda plan is ‘not the be all and end all’ of stopping Channel boats, says new Home Secretary James Cleverly – who warns that leaving the European Convention of Human Rights could undermine UK’s immigration strategy
- James Cleverly is ‘frustrated’ with the focus on the Rwanda migration plan
James Cleverly, the new Home Secretary, has said he is ‘frustrated’ with the focus on the Rwanda plan to tackle illegal immigration and said it shouldn’t be the ‘be all and end all’.
He added that the plan is only part of a broader strategy to ‘stop the boats’ and the proposed workaround of leaving the European Convention on Human Rights would undermine attempts to stop illegal migration.
But Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has refused to rule out leaving the ECHR and is considering emergency legislation to force the Rwanda plan through.
Mr Cleverly warned this would jeopardise ‘key co-operation’ with other countries which has helped with tackling illegal migration – like France, Albania and Bulgaria.
James Cleverly , the new Home Secretary, has said he is ‘frustrated’ with the focus on the Rwanda plan to tackle illegal immigration and it shouldn’t be the ‘be all and end all’
But Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has refused to rule out leaving the ECHR and is considering emergency legislation to force the Rwanda plan through
Mr Cleverly warned this would jeopardise ‘key co-operation’ with other countries which has helped with tackling illegal migration – like France, Albania and Bulgaria
The new Home Secretary has faced an eventful two weeks at his new post, with the Supreme Court ruling that the Rwanda plan is unlawful on Day Two.
READ MORE – Rishi Sunak is considering suspending part of the Human Rights Act to get Rwanda flights off the ground, reports say
On Thursday, official data revealed that legal migration has risen to record levels, after shock revised figures showed a net increase of almost three-quarters of a million people in 2022.
Then when Mr Cleverly supposedly called the town of Stockton a ‘sh**hole’ in the House of Commons – which he denies – he faced massive backlash.
Brushing it off, he called this his ‘third baptism of fire’ – referencing the events of his past jobs in the government.
He says he won’t ‘allow myself to be fazed’ – as he is used to dealing with events very quickly after starting a new job.
During his nine weeks as Education Secretary, there was uproar over exam marking and then the Queen tragically passed away two days in to his time as Foreign Secretary.
In an interview with The Times, Mr Cleverly was careful not to echo his predecessor’s strong views of calling illegal migration an ‘invasion’.
He said: ‘I’m not focused quite as much on describing it, I’m going to spend time dealing with it.
‘Don’t talk tough, be tough. I am a player on the pitch. It’s not my job to try and think about creative ways of describing a situation. It is my job to deal with a situation.’
Mrs Braverman tours a building site during her visit to Rwanda in March
The Office for National Statistics drastically revised its figure for the year to December up from 606,000 to 745,000, an increase of 139,000, almost the same as the population of Cambridge
After the Supreme Court dashed the Government’s hope by ruling the plan to immediately send illegal migrants to Rwanda was illegal, the Prime Minister is looking for ways to push through the plan in other ways.
READ MORE – Rishi Sunak announces ’emergency legislation’ to deem Rwanda a safe country
In the coming weeks, a new treaty with Rwanda is expected to be ratified by Parliament.
The Government’s second approach is more controversial – plans to introduce emergency legislation which could ‘opt out’ of the ECHR on illegal mitigation cases.
When ruling on the Rwanda plan, the Supreme Court raised significant concerns about the country’s migration system as it appeared to be ‘prejudiced’ against Afghan, Yemeni and Syrian refugees – rejecting 100 per cent of their applications.
It also noted that while a route of appeal to the Rwanda High Court existed it technically has never been used.
But Mr Cleverly insists the Supreme Court’s concerns will be addressed by the new treaty with Rwanda. He also said the treaty will stop any asylum seekers sent to Rwanda from being sent on to somewhere else, as this was the biggest concern raised.
He told The Times: ‘We have spent a lot of time, a lot of civil service horsepower, addressing the issues which the Supreme Court and Appeal Court identified.
‘The Rwandans are very keen to work with us because we are helping them improve their institution. They know us, they like us, they trust us.’
After the Supreme Court ruled the plan to immediately send illegal migrants to Rwanda was illegal, the PM is looking for other ways to push the plan through
While Robert Jenrick, the immigration minister, wants the government to negate the effect of the ECHR, Mr Cleverly said he prefers to ‘modernise, update and reform’
Suella Braverman’s time as Home Secretary came to an end after she wrote an article in The Times accusing Scotland Yard of bias when dealing with pro-Palestine protests
What is the European Convention on Human Rights?
After the darkest days of the Second World War, political leaders including Winston Churchill advocated for a Council of Europe (CoE) to oversee a charter of human rights.
This led to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) being signed in 1950. Its drafting was led by Conservative MP Sir David Maxwell-Fyfe and the UK was among the first to ratify the international treaty.
Today the legal commitment signs up all 46 CoE members to abide by rules on rights to life, liberty and expression, and protection from torture, degrading treatment and slavery.
It is not linked to the European Union, so Brexit did not affect the UK’s obligations.
The European Court of Human Rights, in Strasbourg, makes binding judgements on the Convention.
While Robert Jenrick, the immigration minister, wants the government to negate the effect of the ECHR, Mr Cleverly said he prefers to ‘modernise, update and reform’.
He added: ‘Nothing is cost free. Everything needs to be considered, the advantages and disadvantages.’
Mr Cleverly said the Rwanda scheme is drawing a lot of attention but it is part of a wider plan, which includes a treaty with Albania that had led to a 90 per cent decline in arrivals from that country – along with work in the UK to tackle migrant gangs and immigration enforcement.
He said ‘there are multiple methods’ to tackle illegal immigration and the government shouldn’t ‘fixate on the methods, focus on the mission’.
His predecessor’s time as Home Secretary came to an end after she wrote an article in The Times accusing Scotland Yard of bias when dealing with pro-Palestine protests.
Mr Cleverly didn’t echo Mrs Braverman’s words but did say the police are failing to do enough.
He said the Jewish Community is screaming at the Government that they are vulnerable, and he has ‘made clear’ he expects the police to address their concerns.
Mr Cleverly added that he hasn’t ruled out giving police more powers but only if they ‘genuinely need more’ and they need to first use all the powers they currently hold more effectively.
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