There is growing concern that the unelected House of Lords will thwart the Government’s new attempt at making the Rwanda pact work after it was ruled to be illegal by the Supreme Court on Tuesday.
Rishi Sunak has announced that the Government will draft emergency legislation to ensure the plan is not blocked in the courts.
But it has already faced criticism from members of the House of Lords.
Former judge Lord Sumption dismissed the plan as “profoundly discreditable”, saying an attempt to legally deem Rwanda a “safe” country for asylum seekers through emergency legislation would apply in Britain but would not be recognised internationally.
WATCH: Rishi Sunak says he will introduce ’emergency legislation’
Warning the plan would not get through the House of Lords, Sumption said he had never heard of a Government “trying to change the facts, by law”.
Reacting to his comments, a former minister told GB News: “I have a high regard for Jonathan Sumption, but he really should wait to see the precise proposals before commenting.
“The Lords will probably hate it, so they will need to be persuaded.”
Meanwhile, Jacob Rees-Mogg described the remarks as an “injudicious overstatement.”.
He said: “As the UNHCR sends Libyan refugees to Rwanda and a number of other European countries are considering it ‘profoundly discreditable’ is an injudicious overstatement.”
Other peers have also questioned the policies, with Lord Carlile of Berriew saying: “I am shocked to hear the Government seems to be suggesting it will seek to overcome the Supreme Court decision by introducing a bill which simply declares Rwanda a safe country.
“I have absolutely no doubt the House of Lords would put up pretty strong cross-party opposition to the bill that has been mooted.
“The Government cannot force it through under the Parliament Act because it’s not that kind of bill – to be able to be forced through it has to be a manifesto bill.
“There are enough members of the House of Lords willing to object to this to mean the Government would be most unlikely to get it through.”
Labour peer Baroness Chakrabarti added: “I cannot see what they can do with emergency legislation that would not be a two fingers to our Supreme Court and take us out of our international obligations at a time when Putin and others have put these international conventions under threat.”
Writing on X, Simon Clarke suggested the Government should call a general election, saying: “Suella sets out clear and rigorous tests for new legislation on small boats.
“We should be crystal clear: half measures won’t work. We need the legislation that is brought forward to be truly effective, and if the Lords block it – let’s take it to the country.”
This came after former Home Secretary Suella Braverman this morning set out “five tests” for Rishi Sunak, demanding he treat the situation as an emergency, and stop “unaccountable” courts from dictating the UK’s legislation.
Speaking to the Daily Mail, Clarke added: “Clearly it’s for members of the unelected upper house to choose whether they wish to stand in the way of elected politicians trying to address what is an unacceptable situation. But I think there will be fury if they block this.
“Is it unconstitutional for us to say we think Rwanda is safe? At some point we have to ask who governs this country, elected politicians or judges.”
Speaking to the Mail, Rees-Mogg hit out at the Lords, warning: “If the unelected parts of the constitution thwart the will of the British people, that creates a problem.
“Dealing with migration was a manifesto commitment which the Lords must remember.
“Their role is to scrutinise legislation, not to oppose fundamental policy.”
But a senior Tory MP hit back, saying the party needs a new leader before an election, instead saying the Government should just “ping pong” the legislation back and forth with the lords, until eventually forcing it through.
She told GB News: “No, we need a new leader before going to the country. What’s the point – we have a majority, we can keep ping-ponging with them.”