Suella Braverman says ‘we will do whatever it takes’ if Strasbourg thwarts Rwanda plan


Suella Braverman has said the government will “do whatever it takes” if its plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda is “thwarted in Strasbourg”, and confirmed the government is considering fitting some migrants with electronic tags.

In an interview with the BBC, the home secretary stepped up her attack on the European court of human rights (ECHR), calling it politicised and interventionist.

She also suggested the government would be prepared to pull out of the convention that governs the Strasbourg court if it blocked the Rwanda policy, despite there being opposition to such a move inside the cabinet.

The government has taken the issue to the supreme court after a court of appeal judge ruled that it was unlawful to send asylum seekers to Rwanda.

Speaking to Mishal Husain on Radio 4’s Today programme, Braverman said: “If we are thwarted by the courts, or indeed by Strasbourg, then we will have to do whatever it takes, ultimately, to ensure that we can stop the boats.”

Asked if this meant leaving the European convention on human rights, Braverman said: “My personal views are clear.”

Asked what the government’s position was, she said: “We’re very clear that the [Rwanda] scheme complies with our international obligations, and that there’s a path to stopping the boats, which is in conformity with the international regime. If we’re thwarted in the courts, there must be no stone left unturned.”

She added: “This is not about trying to succeed on the pledge. This is about succeeding on the pledge and stopping the boats.”

Pressed on whether that meant leaving the convention, Braverman said: “We’re not thinking about that.”

Husain asked her why she had mentioned Strasbourg if the government was not considering leaving the convention.

Braverman said: “Last year we saw very plainly how the Strasbourg court thwarted our attempt for flights to take off to Rwanda through an opaque process at the last minute, which undermined the decisions of this government. It’s a politicised court, it’s interventionist, it’s treading on the territory of national sovereignty, but no one’s talking about leaving the ECHR right now.”

She added: “We’ve just passed our landmark legislation in the form of the Illegal Migration Act. That will enable us to detain and remove those who have arrived here illegally … We need to await the outcome of our litigation in the supreme court before we can start operationalising the main aspects of the act.”

Braverman insisted the Bibby Stockholm accommodation barge was safe for housing asylum seekers after the Fire Brigades Union threatened legal action because it regarded the vessel as a “death trap”.

This month the Home Office was forced to remove the first 39 asylum seekers from the barge only days after they had arrived because potentially deadly legionella bacteria was identified on board.

The home secretary refused to say when people would be housed again on the barge. “We’re waiting for the processes to complete and once they are done, we will be moving people back on to the barge. I’m very confident about the safety standards on the barge.”

She said it was “obviously disappointing” people had to be disembarked, and

appeared to blame contractors and the local authority in Dorset for the failure to complete tests before the barge was used.

“We followed all the protocols from the local health and safety executives,” she said. “A large part of that work was contracted out to third parties. I’m very disappointed that those processes were not properly completed.”