UK top court to give ruling on Rwanda migrant plan next week

LONDON (Reuters) -The UK Supreme Court said on Thursday it would deliver its ruling next week on whether the government can go ahead with its controversial plan to deport migrants to Rwanda.

In April, London’s Court of Appeal said the scheme was unlawful because the east African country was not a safe country, dealing Prime Minister Rishi Sunak a major blow in his bid to deter large numbers of asylum seekers arriving in small boats across the Channel from France.

Government lawyers argued at the UK’s top court in October that it should overturn that ruling. Five judges, including the Supreme Court President Robert Reed, will hand down their ruling next Wednesday, the Supreme Court said.

“The judgment in the above case will be handed down in the Supreme Court on Wednesday 15 November 2023 shortly after 10 a.m.,” the court said.

The Rwanda deal, struck by former Prime Minister Boris Johnson in April 2022, was designed to deter asylum seekers from making dangerous journeys across the Channel, and Sunak has made a pledge to “stop the boats” one of five priorities as he seeks to turn around his and his party’s fortunes.

This year more than 26,500 people have arrived in Britain on small boats without permission, after a record 45,755 were detected in 2022.

The government told the court there was a “serious and pressing need” for the Rwanda scheme, and that the deal with Rwanda would ensure migrants were treated well.

But lawyers representing asylum seekers argued it would put migrants at risk of being returned to their home countries despite having valid asylum claims.

(Reporting by Michael Holden; editing by Sarah Young)