The former head of judiciary has informed ministers that the proposed plan to let the UK ignore rulings from the European Court of Human Rights on small boat crossings may be defeated by the House of Lords.
Lord Thomas, the former Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the proposed change would be a ‘symbolic breach of the rule of law,’ which he stated would be ‘a step a government should never take’. He condemned the Government for once again giving into the ideologies of hard right Tory MPs upon their threats to rebel during the Illegal Migration Bill’s final parliamentary stages.
An injunction issued by the Strasbourg based court blocked the government’s initial attempt to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda last year. These interim measures have been crucial in ceasing extraditions, typically in cases of asylum seekers fearing persecution upon returning to their home countries.
Yet 30 backbench rebels continue to push Prime Minister Rishi Sunak into strengthening legislation so ministers can bypass such interim rulings.
Commons leader Penny Mordant stated that on Wednesday 26th MPs would consider the final stages of the illegal migration bill in Commons. Amendments would be discussed and voted on by the chamber before going to the House of Lords.
The Guardian has reported that the plan has been further condemned today by The Law Society, the representative body for solicitors in England and Wales. Vice Chair Richard Atkinson today said that the Law Society would be ‘unequivocally opposed’ to the proposed amendment which he described as presenting ‘a clear and serious breach of international law.’
The Bar Council has also condemned the proposals. Nick Vineall KC, Chair of the Bar, said:
“Legislating to allow the UK Government to ignore the rulings of a court undermines the rule of law, which is the foundation upon which domestic and international justice systems are built.
“How can a government expect citizens to respect judicial rulings if it is willing to ignore them itself?
“The Bar Council echoes the concerns raised by the former Lord Chief Justice Lord Thomas. This would be bad law, sets a dangerous precedent, and risks serious damage to the UK’s international reputation. We urge the Government to reconsider this move.”