UK's attorney general says Britons should decide who stays in country

Suella Braverman's comments follow anger from senior politicians towards the European Court's decision to stop the UK-Rwanda deportation flight

Suella Braverman, UK Attorney General, criticised the European Court of Human Rights for intervening in the government's plans to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda under a controversial immigration policy. Bloomberg
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The UK government’s senior lawyer said it was “time to complete Brexit and let the British people decide who can and cannot stay in our country”.

Attorney General Suella Braverman's comments came after a European court decision stopped Britain’s first scheduled deportation flight of asylum seekers to Rwanda on Tuesday night.

Ms Braverman said she had “significant reservations” about the UK’s relationship with the European Court of Human Rights, which granted a last-minute interim measure covering people who were on the flight’s passenger list and effectively grounded the plane.

“In the EU referendum, the British people voted to take back control of our laws,” said Ms Braverman in comments carried by the Daily Express.

“They are rightly baffled why our immigration controls can still be blocked by European judges.

“It’s time to complete Brexit and let the British people decide who can and cannot stay in our country.”

The ECHR is an international court set up in 1959. It rules on individual or state applications alleging violations of the civil and political rights set out in the European Convention on Human Rights, an international treaty launched by the Council of Europe in 1950.

The Council of Europe, of which the UK is a member, is not part of the EU.

While Brexit represented the UK’s departure from the EU, it is still beholden to the European Court and ECHR.

The ECHR’s ruling on Tuesday led to some senior UK politicians accusing it of interference, including Home Secretary Priti Patel, who called the decision “politically motivated”.

Justice Secretary Dominic Raab, who plans to replace the Human Rights Act, which enshrines the ECHR in domestic law, with a bill of rights, said it was wrong for the ECHR’s injunction to be granted.

The legal row has led to some senior politicians suggesting that Britain should pull out of the convention altogether, which has not been ruled out by either Downing Street or the attorney general.

Mr Raab has said the UK would stay within the convention, but new laws could ensure that interim measures from the Strasbourg court could effectively be ignored by the government.

A judicial review hearing on the legality of the Home Office’s plans to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda will take place in July.

In its ruling, the ECHR said that no person should be removed to the East African nation until at least three weeks after a judgment on the legal review is made.

Ms Patel has said the government “will not be deterred from doing the right thing, [and] we will not be put off by the inevitable last-minute legal challenges”.

Updated: June 19, 2022, 6:02 PM
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