REELING Rishi Sunak yesterday admitted: “My patience has run thin as has the country’s” — after his Rwanda deportation scheme was blown up by the Supreme Court.
The PM vowed emergency laws to push through his plan after judges ruled it unlawful.
But he faced a massive Tory backlash and was warned his leadership is now on the line.
Other critics said the party was in an existential crisis if it did not stop the migrant boats.
Exasperated Mr Sunak told a hastily-arranged press conference: “I absolutely share the frustrations that my colleagues and indeed people across the country have about this issue.”
The controversial plan, announced by then-PM Boris Johnson in April 2022, has faced several court challenges and cost at least £140million.
Yesterday Mr Sunak said the time had come to end the legal “merry-go-round” — after the UK’s five most senior judges unanimously ruled the plan risked Rwanda returning migrants to dangerous home countries.
Mr Sunak will seek to sign a new treaty with Rwanda within weeks where it promises not to deport anyone who arrives from Britain, and write that guarantee into UK law to satisfy the judges.
But it means the flights remain grounded for months longer — with the policy tested again in the courts even after the law change.
Mr Sunak insisted flights could get going in spring. But MPs were sceptical and the PM would not guarantee a “wheels-up moment” before an election.
And, as dozens of MPs urged him to ignore the European Convention on Human Rights, he vowed: “I will not allow a foreign court to block these flights.”
He gave a clear hint he would ignore any attempt by European judges to step in, saying: “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. I will not take the easy way out.”
Mr Sunak was battling a major assault from the right of his party already bruised by Monday’s reshuffle.
Sacked Home Secretary Suella Braverman demanded full emergency legislation let ministers overrule the Convention and Human Rights Act.
She said: “Those who, like me, believe that effective immigration control is vital must understand that they cannot have their cake and eat it: There is no chance of curbing illegal migration within the current legal framework. We must legislate or admit defeat.”
Ex-Cabinet minister Sir Simon Clarke said the ruling posed a fundamental question of “who governs Britain”.
And he warned the PM’s response would be viewed as a confidence issue.
Sir Simon demanded emergency legislation to override the Human Rights Act, and warned anything less risked Mr Sunak’s entire administration collapsing.
Tory deputy chairman Lee Anderson said the Government should ignore the laws and send migrants back the same day they arrive in the UK.
Tory MP Neil O’Brien, who quit as a minister on Monday, warned Mr Sunak against “a reheat” of the existing plan.
He added: “We tried the cautious approach and that was reasonable. But we now know for sure that tinkering won’t work.”
Danny Kruger, co-chair of the New Conservatives group, said the judgment could mean the end of the party, adding: “This feels absolutely existential. We promised to stop the boats, we promised to take back control of our borders.”
Last night the New Conservatives posted on Twitter/X: “Glad PM is bringing forward emergency legislation. But it will need more than a declaration that Rwanda is safe.
“We can’t wait for ECHR to intervene: we must move now to ensure that this time, finally, there is simply no opportunity for rights-based claims against deportation.
“The Bill must disapply the Human Rights Act and give effect to the policy notwithstanding the ECHR and Refugee Convention.
“It must restate the power of the Government to disregard interim rulings from Strasbourg. We have no time left. This Bill, which must come to Parliament within weeks, must have everything in it to ensure flights are in the air within months.”
Despite the damning verdict, the PM stressed the Supreme Court’s backing for the “principle of sending illegal migrants to a third country”.
He revealed UK officials are already working up a strengthened treaty with their counterparts in Rwanda’s capital Kigali to guarantee settled status for all asylum seekers deported there.
It seeks to quash the Supreme Court’s fear that migrants removed to the African nation who lose their asylum appeal face being sent back to their homeland.
President of the Supreme Court Lord Reed said this “real risk” breached not only the ECHR but various United Nations treaties.
He said a previous “safe” ruling from the High Court this year had failed to properly consider UN evidence against Rwanda.
Lord Reed also raised concerns about its poor human rights record and media freedom.
By Jack Elsom
THE Supreme Court ruled 5-0 yesterday that the Rwanda scheme was unlawful.
The judges unanimously agreed to throw out the Government’s appeal over fears that the East African country could return migrants who had crossed the Channel to the countries they first left.
President Lord Reed said that this was a breach of the European Convention of Human Rights as well as other United Nations’ treaties.
PM Rishi Sunak immediately stood by the £140million scheme in principle and called Rwandan President Paul Kagame to try to reassure him that he still wanted to find a way through.
He will seek a strengthened treaty under which Kigali will not remove any asylum-seekers even if their claims fail.
Mr Sunak also vowed not to let judges at the European Court of Human Rights use section 39 orders banning future flights to Rwanda.