The government’s Rwanda asylum policy, which it says is needed to tackle small boats, is in disarray, after the UK’s highest court ruled it is unlawful.
The Supreme Court upheld a Court of Appeal ruling, which said the policy leaves people sent to Rwanda open to human rights breaches.
It means the policy cannot be implemented in its current form.
Rishi Sunak signalled he is not willing to give up on the plan, and has set out measures he says will revive it.
The controversial plan to fly asylum seekers to Rwanda and ban them from returning to the UK has been subject to legal challenges since it was first announced by Boris Johnson in April 2022.
The government has already spent £140m on the scheme but flights were prevented from taking off in June last year after the Court of Appeal ruled the approach was unlawful due to a lack of human rights safeguards.
Now that the UK’s most senior court has agreed, the policy’s chances of being realised without major revisions are effectively ended.
But Mr Sunak told MPs at Prime Minister’s Questions that he was ready to finalise a formal treaty with Rwanda and would be “prepared to revisit our domestic legal frameworks” in a bid to revive the plan.
A treaty – which Downing Street has said it will publish in the “coming days” – would upgrade the agreement between the UK and Rwanda from its current status as a “memorandum of understanding”, which the government believes would put the arrangement on a stronger legal footing.