An overmighty European court and the question: Who runs Britain?

DAILY MAIL COMMENT: An overmighty European court and the question: Who really runs Britain?

The farcical halting of the first Rwanda asylum seekers flight after a last‑ditch intervention by the European Court of Human Rights is an indisputable blow for the Government.

The self-righteous liberal elite who had shrilly denounced the plan as immoral and inhumane did not simply celebrate the controversial ruling, they gleefully rubbed Tory noses in it.

This matter, however, extends far beyond an acrimonious political skirmish over the stringency (or otherwise) of immigration control. At stake is nothing less than the question of who runs Britain.

Are we still a democratic and sovereign nation, whose elected representatives make our laws and can be cast out by us when they get things wrong? Or are we for ever to be subject to the arbitrary impulse of a court of foreign judges, over whom we have no say?

A Boeing 767 aircraft at MoD Boscombe Down, near Salisbury, which is believed to be the plane set to take asylum seekers from the UK to Rwanda before being grounded on Tuesday

A Boeing 767 aircraft at MoD Boscombe Down, near Salisbury, which is believed to be the plane set to take asylum seekers from the UK to Rwanda before being grounded on Tuesday

With Home Secretary Priti Patel’s bold attempt to stop the deadly trade of migrants crossing the Channel in small boats seemingly in limbo, this question takes on the sharpest focus. After all, three UK courts — including the Supreme Court — had declared the Rwanda flight lawful. Not on a whim. No, they assessed all the evidence with the dispassionate sagacity expected of their exalted offices.

Yet, scandalously, they’ve been overruled by the ECHR in an out-of-hours hearing so rushed it verged on indecent for a body normally better known for its interminable deliberations. As the plane, with a passenger manifest of seven migrants, prepared to fly to east Africa, the Strasbourg court summarily grounded it, pending a full High Court trial of the policy’s legality.

The full details of Tuesday’s hearing remain troublingly opaque. Extraordinarily, even the identity of the judge — who did not hear vital oral submissions from Home Office lawyers — is shrouded in secrecy.

Such a disturbing lack of transparency is redolent of a banana republic, not an organisation that pompously boasts it is a beacon of human rights. For years, the Mail has campaigned against the insidious undermining of the sovereignty of Parliament by the remote, unaccountable ECHR.

From demanding that prisoners should get the vote to halting the deportation of terror suspects who hate this country’s values, it is synonymous with judgments that fly in the face of common sense and the interests of the British people.

Judicial activism in Strasbourg has warped the original noble intentions of the British authors of the European Convention on Human Rights. Designed to prevent a repeat of the horrors of the Nazi concentration camps, it has become a charter for politically-correct special interest groups.

While the ECHR’s latest ruling has delighted the Left-wing coalition of activists, charities, unions and human rights lawyers who fought the case, millions of ordinary voters will be deeply unhappy at the outcome. They will wonder why, even after Brexit and the promise to ‘take back control’ of our borders, a European tribunal is still meddling in our affairs.

Yes, we remain a signatory to the convention. But the Tories were given a whopping majority in 2019 to crackdown on illegal immigration.

With admirable optimism, the Home Secretary has vowed to press on with sending Channel-crossing migrants to Rwanda to process their asylum claims. But it’s not difficult to see the policy getting bogged down in legal battles for months, if not years.

All the while, thousands of Channel-hoppers continue to make the illegal crossing from France — unvetted, unchecked, uninvited. Sending illegal arrivals to Rwanda would be a visible deterrent to making these perilous journeys in overcrowded dinghies, preventing the Calais traffickers profiteering from human misery and saving lives. However, the virtue-signallers and legal aid-funded courtroom warriors don’t appear to care how many migrants are endangered at sea.

In defiance of the electorate’s express will, these pro-immigration zealots simply hanker after an open borders free-for-all.

Home Secretary Priti Patel (pictured in the Commons on Wednesday) was granted permission to go ahead with the removal flight to Rwanda this week by both the High Court and Court of Appeal

Home Secretary Priti Patel (pictured in the Commons on Wednesday) was granted permission to go ahead with the removal flight to Rwanda this week by both the High Court and Court of Appeal

Labour, as per usual, has nothing constructive to say about tackling the immoral trade. We know unrestricted immigration is their long-term policy objective. But their call for so-called ‘safe routes’ is bone-headed. It would invariably lead to vastly more migrants applying abroad to come here, putting greater strain on public services. Plus, those denied asylum will jump in smugglers’ boats anyway.

With their huge Parliamentary majority, the Conservatives can change, unhindered, any laws being exploited by the burgeoning immigration industry. We welcome Boris Johnson looking at withdrawing from the jurisdiction of the ECHR. And the PM should urge Justice Secretary Dominic Raab to speed up and strengthen reforms to replace Labour’s insidious Human Rights Act with a British Bill of Rights. That would reassert the superiority of Parliament and UK courts over international bodies.

But given that the Tories have been promising to do this for nearly two decades, we’ll keep the champagne on ice.

While the Rwanda policy flounders thanks to an over-mighty Euro court, the militant rail unions are threatening to hold the country to ransom with crippling strikes. Labour has let the cat out of the bag that it would reverse Brexit. And the EU is trying to annex Northern Ireland as punishment for having the temerity to quit the sclerotic bloc.

All of these beg the vital question: who governs Britain? Boris must have the nerve to show his opponents — and voters — that it is him.