David Jones was commenting on reports that “senior EU officials” have contacted British counterparts urging them not to “backtrack on international human rights agreements” in order to deport asylum-seekers to the African country in accordance with a deal struck last year. Insiders told the Bloomberg news agency some individual member states had also made contact with the UK Government.
Mr Jones, a staunch Brexiteer and the the member for Clwyd West, told Express.co.uk: “The European Union has still not internalised the plain fact that the UK is no longer a member state and that Brussels no longer calls the shots. As it is now an independent country once again, the UK’s own constitutional arrangements prevail.
“Under the UK’s constitution, Parliament is sovereign, and if Parliament decides that some treaty provisions should be disapplied in certain circumstances, then that is what will happen.”
The European Convention on Human Rights and other similar arrangements were agreed more 70 years ago, long before the mass movement of people and long before the development of an “organised criminal people-smuggling racket”, Mr Jones pointed out.
He continued: “Those obligations should now be reviewed and, if necessary, renegotiated. The UK, EU and other parties to the Convention should meet for that purpose and seek to agree a new set of agreements that properly reflect the world as it is today, not as it was in the immediate postwar period.
“The people-smuggling trade is not affecting the UK alone. It is also having the most detrimental impact on countries such as Italy, France and Germany. Pretending the problem doesn’t exist, which is what the EU appears to want to do, just won’t work.
“We need a new international framework, and the EU should work with us to build it.”
Negotiations on a new treaty with Rwanda over the UK’s stalled deportation policy, derailed by multiple legal challenges are in their final stages, according to the Home Office’s top civil servant.
Permanent secretary Sir Matthew Rycroft told MPs officials were in the capital Kigali “as we speak” as they put the “finishing touches” to the talks after the Supreme Court ruled against the plan to send some asylum seekers on a one-way trip to the African nation.
The Government now faces questions over how much it has already paid Rwanda and if more payments are due to be made, after MPs were told they would have to wait months to learn if it was more than the £140 million previously disclosed. Sir Matthew hinted more cash could be paid but would not say if any additional payments had since been made when pressed on the matter, instead saying ministers had decided they would not reveal that information until the summer.
Meanwhile security minister Tom Tugendhat MP backed recently appointed Home Secretary James Cleverly to “alleviate” any Rwandan concerns about the delays in implementing the deal. He said: “I know that the Home Secretary as foreign secretary has had a good working relationship with the Rwandan government at various different points, and I’m sure he is extremely well placed to make sure that any concerns the Rwandan government may have at any points will be alleviated.
“I’m very pleased that James Cleverly is there because what he is going to be doing, clearly, is making sure that this commitment – the Prime Minister’s commitment – is delivered on so that we achieve the aim of dissuading evil traffickers from exploiting vulnerable people and risking their lives by carrying them across extremely dangerous seaways, not only the English Channel but the Mediterranean where we have seen thousands of lives lost.This is a cruel trade and we’ve got to be absolutely clear that allowing this trade to continue is allowing criminal groups to exploit the most vulnerable in our society.”