Rishi Sunak’s key immigration policy has been dealt a blow after the UK’s highest court rejected the government’s plans to deport people seeking asylum to Rwanda.

Five judges at the supreme court upheld an appeal court ruling on Wednesday, which found that there was a real risk of deported refugees having their claims in the east African country wrongly assessed or being returned to their country of origin to face persecution.

The ruling undermines one of the prime minister’s key pledges – to “stop the boats”. The government claimed that the Rwandan scheme would be a key deterrent for growing numbers of asylum seekers reaching the UK via small boats travelling across the Channel – a claim that has been rejected by refugee charities.

The ruling come the day after the sacked home secretary, Suella Braverman, released an incendiary letter accusing the prime minister of breaking an agreement to insert clauses into UK law that would have “blocked off” legal challenges under the European convention on human rights (ECHR) and the Human Rights Act.

Braverman said Sunak had no “credible plan B” and warned: “If we lose in the supreme court, an outcome that I have consistently argued we must be prepared for, you will have wasted a year and an act of parliament, only to arrive back at square one.”

A meeting of hard-right Conservative MPs will be held in parliament to consider the judgment on Wednesday at 10.30am. The meeting is expected to back calls to leave the ECHR.

Sir John Hayes, a close ally of Braverman, said on Tuesday that in the event of losing, ministers should table a narrow piece of legislation to enact the Rwanda plan before Christmas, and later include withdrawing from the ECHR in the Tory election manifesto.

Source The Guardian