Home Office minister ‘sacked after backing Braverman’s hard-line Rwanda plan’

Suella Braverman wanted to opt out of European human rights laws
Suella Braverman wanted to opt out of European human rights laws - TOBY MELVILLE/REUTERS

A Home Office minister was sacked after backing Suella Braverman’s hard-line Rwanda plan, allies of the former home secretary have claimed.

Lord Murray, a leading human rights lawyer who steered Rishi Sunak’s “stop the boats” Bill through the Lords, was ousted in last week’s reshuffle in which Mrs Braverman was also sacked.

The peer is understood to have been one of three signatories to a letter sent by Mrs Braverman in which she advocated the opting out of European human rights laws ahead of the Supreme Court ruling that the Rwanda policy is unlawful.

“The belief is he was sacked because he signed the hard-line Plan B letter despite being a leading lawyer,” said a source in the Suella camp.

Lord Murray, a barrister with specialist experience in judicial reviews on immigration, declined to comment, or to “confirm or deny” whether he signed the letter.

A government source said it never commented on individual reshuffle decisions, but pointed out that the third signatory of the letter, Robert Jenrick, the Immigration Minister, was still in post.

The Telegraph revealed on Saturday that Mr Jenrick signed the letter and is now pushing for a “belt and braces” approach to the emergency legislation, announced last week by the Prime Minister, which will declare Rwanda safe and bar anyone from lodging a legal challenge against the policy as a whole.

Rishi Sunak is under pressure to go further and is said by sources on the Right of the party to be actively considering disapplying the Human Rights Act in asylum claims to prevent courts blocking the Rwanda deportation flights. No 10 declined to comment.

This would force a claimant to take their case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, a process that would take time during which its advocates hope the Rwanda policy could be shown to have worked.

However, this is unlikely to satisfy Mrs Braverman and MPs on the Right who want the Government to remove the right of judicial review and include “notwithstanding” clauses which would allow ministers to ignore the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), without leaving the treaty.

Victoria Prentis, the Attorney General, and Alex Chalk, the Justice Secretary, are thought likely to oppose moves to exclude Human rights laws.

It was reported at the weekend that Isaac Levido, the Tory campaign strategist, supports the harder-line option as well as Mr Jenrick, who one Tory MP described as “the shop steward of the Right in Government.”

On Sunday, Jeremy Hunt, the Chancellor, said the Government would “do whatever it takes” to ensure the Rwanda deportation flights took off.

Although he said last week the Government could not guarantee the flights before the election, he told the BBC’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg: “We expect planes to be flying to Rwanda in the spring. We will change the law as necessary.”

“We’re going to do a new international treaty with Rwanda. This isn’t easy stuff. We’re going to solve the problems that people are most frustrated about.

“It’s going to take persistence. It’s going to take determination.”

The legislation and treaty to pave the way for the deportation flights by declaring Rwanda a safe country for migrants to claim asylum will be delayed until at least the New Year.

The new legally binding Treaty with Rwanda is expected to be published this week and will place new duties on Rwanda not to remove any migrant deported to it by the UK, a move designed to counter the central criticism by the Supreme Court that Rwanda has sent failed asylum seekers back to their homelands to face persecution.

However, it is likely to take 42 days before it is approved by Parliament, which means it cannot be ratified before MPs and Lords break for the Christmas recess on Dec 19.

It is understood that consideration of the Bill declaring Rwanda safe cannot begin in the Commons until the Treaty has been ratified and signed by Rwanda.