Rishi Sunak threatens UK will leave European court | Politics | News

Rishi Sunak vows he will take Britain out of the European human rights court if it continues to block deportation flights to Rwanda.

Coming out fighting after a turbulent few weeks of dire polls and party unrest, the Prime Minister insisted everything is in place to get a plane in the air.

But he warned any attempt to meddle in the plans by Strasbourg judges would lead to Britain’s exit from the court.

He said: “I do believe that border security and making sure that we can control illegal migration is more important than membership of a foreign court because it’s fundamental to our sovereignty as a country.”

The warning is the strongest yet from Mr Sunak, who insists his Rwanda bill is compliant with international law.

Speaking passionately about the need to stop the boats, the PM said illegal migration “offends my sense of fairness”.

In an interview for The Sun’s Never Mind the Ballots, he added: “Of course, we’re welcoming and tolerant people and my own personal story is an example of that.

“But that’s got to be done fairly. And when people jump the queue, come here illegally and then put pressure on public services in the way that they do and are not able to remove them in the way that we want to.

“That’s not right. And I’ve been very clear, it offends my sense of fairness and that sense of fairness is a central character.”

Another 800 illegal migrants arrived in the UK shores over the Easter weekend after crossing the channel on small boats.

It takes the total number of arrivals to more than 5,435, a 43% increase compared with the same time last year.

But Mr Sunak defended his record on tackling the issue compared to his predecessors.

He said: “More than any other prime minister in history I’ve really gone at tackling this problem and I spent more time on it than anything else other than the economy.”

Crossings were down by a third last year but the PM denied he is now back to square one.

“No, we’re not because progress is still being made,” he said.

The Safety of Rwanda Bill is stuck in parliamentary “ping pong” because peers are refusing to back the legislation in its current form.

But Mr Sunak insists he is confident it will pass and flights will take off soon after.

“We’ve got all the plans in place,” he said. “I am highly confident I can operationalise the policy.”

The PM hit out at Labour for sniping from the sidelines and accused Sir Keir Starmer of having no plan for dealing with the small boats crisis.

Mr Sunak previously warned the European Court of Human Rights that he will do “what is necessary” to make the Rwanda plan a reality, but went further last night.

He said: “I believe that our scheme, including the Rwanda part of it, all our plans to tackle illegal migration, are compliant with all of our international obligations including the ECHR but I believe that border security and controlling

illegal migration is more important than our membership of any foreign court.”

The Prime Minister said his continued “working assumption” is that an election will take place in the second half of the year, but added he has not decided when this will be as he is “busy focusing on the things that matter to people”.

Mr Sunak can go as late as January next year but is expected to trigger a vote in the autumn.

The PM refused to rule out at June poll but again insisted his “working assumption” is that the election is in the second half of the year.

But he revealed that he has not yet decided on the date.

Mr Sunak again opened the door to Boris Johnson returning to the campaign trail.

“Anyone from the Conservative family who wants to see a Conservative reelected and who doesn’t think Keir Starmer is the right person to lead our country will be welcome on the campaign trail.

“Ultimately that’s the choice. It’s myself or Keir Starmer after the next election.

“If you want to cut taxes, if you want a better approach to net zero, if you want a better approach to immigration, we’re the ones to do that for you.”

Mr Sunak has endured a torrid few weeks after threats of plots to oust him after local elections in May.

Another mega poll was released yesterday (WED) that put the Conservatives on course to suffer a general election defeat similar to the 1997 blowout.

The YouGov study put Labour on 403 seats, leading to a 154-seat majority in the House of Commons.

Tories would win just 155 seats, down from the 365 at the 2019 general election.

Prominent Tory figures including Jeremy Hunt, Penny Mordaunt, Sir Iain Duncan Smith, and Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg would lose their seats.

More than 18,000 adults were polled last month for the study, which found Reform would not win any seats despite growing support.

Mr Sunak said: “It has been a frustrating time and I completely appreciate that. There’s going to be lots of polls.

“What matters is the general election and that’s what I’m focusing on.”

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