Suella Braverman 'encouraged' by talks with European Court of Human Rights in push to have migrants sent to Rwanda

Home Secretary Suella Braverman has said she is "encouraged" by "constructive" discussions with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) about the injunction that halted migrant flights to Rwanda.

A government source said any change to the injunction "would remove a key barrier to getting flights off the ground".

The ECHR, which granted an injunction via its Rule 39 in 2022, has not commented on any discussions.

As part of the talks with the Strasbourg court, the government has requested a higher legal threshold for any Rule 39 injunction that may be imposed on future deportation flights.

It also wants the ECHR to take into account that the UK High Court ruled the Rwanda scheme was lawful.

The government also wants to make legal representations if the court seeks another injunction in the future.

It comes after cabinet minister Oliver Dowden claimed the government was being "forced" to pursue the controversial policy because the number of people crossing the Channel in small boats had risen so dramatically.

He added he did not "relish" the prospect of families being deported to Rwanda, but insisted "evil people smugglers" would otherwise be putting them at risk of harm.

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Speaking from the Rwandan capital of Kigali, Ms Braverman said it was a "blessing" that people coming to the UK illegally would be deported to the African country.

"The government has been clear that the opaque Strasbourg process which led to the last-minute grounding of our Rwanda flight with a Rule 39 order last year was deeply flawed," she said.

"That's why we have measures in our bill that will address how the UK intends to comply with such orders in the future.

"But I've been encouraged by the government's constructive recent discussions with Strasbourg, including around possible reforms to Rule 39 procedures, which is obviously something we'd like to see."

A Home Office source previously said the government was aiming to have the first deportation flights set off this summer, but that this timeline was dependent on the upcoming legal battles.

No migrants have been deported to Rwanda since the deal was signed last April by Ms Braverman's predecessor, Priti Patel.

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Labour's Lisa Nandy criticised the government's "unethical, unworkable" Rwanda policy and suggested money from the £140m deal should be used to aid the National Crime Agency's efforts to tackle criminal gangs profiting from Channel crossings.

She told Sky News: "Everyone accepts this is a major problem, a crisis. We've got record numbers of boats arriving on the coast, criminal gangs profiting and an asylum system in chaos.

"But the question is, what is the government actually doing? So far, they've done several PR opportunities and photo ops. We've had £140m of cheques written to Rwanda in order to implement a scheme that hasn't removed a single person."