Ministers blasted over Rwanda ‘shambles’ as Northern Ireland flights blocked

“Incompetent” ministers have been blasted after a bombshell court ruling that found the Rwanda deportation plan breaks the Good Friday Agreement.

MPs voiced their fury after the Belfast High Court found that the Illegal Migration Act can’t be applied in Northern Ireland due to the historic peace deal. DUP MP Gavin Robinson accused the Government of repeatedly ignoring warnings this would happen.

Monday’s ruling has sparked fears that thousands of asylum seekers will flock to Northern Ireland. Shadow Migration Minister Stephen Kinnock told the Commons: “It has been a shambles from start to finish.”

To make matters worse for the Government, former Home Secretary Suella Braverman said it showed Rishi Sunak’s Brexit deal had “failed on its first contact with reality”. The Government has vowed to appeal against the High Court ruling, setting up yet another court battle to force through the Rwanda policy.

Suella Braverman lashed out at Rishi Sunak's Brexit deal

Suella Braverman lashed out at Rishi Sunak’s Brexit deal

MPs heard the Illegal Migration Act was passed in order to force through the Government’s Rwanda plan. The DUP’s Sammy Wilson branded it “another hole” in the UK’s immigration policy. It has sparked demand from Tory backbenchers to pass even more laws to “sort out this mess”.

Labour’s Mr Kinnock said: “Large numbers of desperate asylum seekers are crossing continents exploited by criminal smuggling gangs operating in the English Channel and being met by an incompetent and clueless Conservative government.” He criticised the Government for falling down the expensive “Rwanda rabbit hole”.

Mr Sunak’s Windsor Framework agreement with the EU – which was reached to correct errors in Boris Johnson’s botched Brexit deal – says that human rights rules protected by the Good Friday Agreement can’t be scrubbed out. Mr Justice Humphreys found several parts of the Act cause a “significant” reduction of rights which asylum seekers are entitled to under the 1998 peace agreement.

Ms Braverman told MPs: “Isn’t it now patently clear that the Windsor Framework has operated in a way to undermine our sovereignty and to undermine Northern Ireland’s place within the United Kingdom? And I’m afraid it’s fundamentally failed upon its first contact with reality.”

Mr Robinson hit out at the Government for batting away warnings and amendments to its legislation to prevent the situation occuring. He said: “Why, when they had the opportunity to put this issue beyond date, did they not? Do they recognise that by not doing so, they have significantly impaired the uniformity of the UK’s immigration policy?”

Tory Sir Christopher Chope, branded the Government’s position “manifestly absurd”. He said more legislation is needed to overcome the court ruling.

Sir Christopher told MPs: “If we go to appeal and we then find the appeal is rejected, then we lost a lot more time. Why don’t we act now to legislate and sort out this mess?”

Illegal Migration minister Tom Pursglove maintained that the ruling won’t stop flights taking off. He told MPs: “Preparations to begin flights within weeks are continuing apace. As the Prime Minister has made clear, nothing will distract us from the job of implementing the Rwanda policy. We must start the flights to stop the boats.”