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Rwanda flights will go ahead as planned, says Downing Street after Northern Ireland puts ‘spanner in the works’ with bombshell High Court ruling to ‘disapply’ parts of the Illegal Migration Act


Downing Street last night insisted that the flagship plan to deport Channel migrants to Rwanda will go ahead as planned – despite a court in Northern Ireland putting ‘a spanner in the works’.

In a bombshell ruling, Belfast High Court said parts of the Illegal Migration Act should be ‘disapplied’ in Northern Ireland because they undermined post-Brexit human rights protections agreed with the EU.

The ruling, which the Government plans to appeal, could make it impossible for the Home Office to deport migrants to Rwanda if they travel to Northern Ireland. 

The DUP last night warned it could make the province a ‘magnet’ for illegal migrants and urged ministers to intervene. 

But Downing Street suggested the court was wrong to ‘extend’ post-Brexit rules to cover issues such as illegal migration. 

Migrants pictured on a boat attempting to cross the English Channel near Dunkirk, France in April

The ruling, which the Government plans to appeal, could make it impossible for the Home Office to deport migrants to Rwanda if they travel to Northern Ireland. Pictured: Rishi Sunak

The ruling, which the Government plans to appeal, could make it impossible for the Home Office to deport migrants to Rwanda if they travel to Northern Ireland. Pictured: Rishi Sunak

A source said: ‘It shows again that the courts are desperate to frustrate this plan, but in the PM’s view it is politicians not the courts who are accountable to the public for addressing concerns on illegal migration. We will not be knocked off course.’

The PM’s official spokesman said the ruling would have no impact on the first flights to Rwanda planned for this summer as the initial ‘cohort’ of deportees would be detained under different legislation.

‘We continue to work on the timetable that the Prime Minister had previously set out,’ he said. 

‘We’ve consistently been clear that the commitment to the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement should be interpreted as they were always intended and not expanded to cover issues like illegal migration.’

Solicitor Sinead Marmion, who represented a 16-year-old Iranian asylum seeker in the case, said the judgment was ‘hugely significant’ and would prevent the Rwanda scheme applying in Northern Ireland.

‘This is a huge thorn in the Government’s side and it has completely put a spanner in the works,’ she added.



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