THAT'S EUR LOT Nothing’s more important than protecting our borders – we’ll QUIT Euro court to stop boats if we have to, Rishi vows

BRITAIN will quit the European court if that is what it takes to stop small boats, Rishi Sunak promised Sun readers last night. 

For the first time in his premiership, the PM threatened to end the UK’s 71-year tie to the European Convention of Human Rights. 

Rishi Sunak has threatened to quit the ECHR if that is what it takes to grip Channel crossings
Rishi Sunak has threatened to quit the ECHR if that is what it takes to grip Channel crossingsCredit: Darren Fletcher
The Sun's Harry Cole grills the PM on our new politics show Never Mind The Ballots
The Sun's Harry Cole grills the PM on our new politics show Never Mind The BallotsCredit: Darren Fletcher
Mr Sunak is under pressure to curb small boat crossings after more than 5,000 people have arrived already this year
Mr Sunak is under pressure to curb small boat crossings after more than 5,000 people have arrived already this year

He told our Never Mind The Ballots show: “I believe that border security and controlling illegal migration is more important than our membership of any foreign court.”

It is the strongest warning yet to meddling Strasbourg judges who blocked the first attempted flight to Rwanda two years ago. 

In a no-holds barred grilling, the Prime Minister also:

  • INVITED Boris Johnson to rally Tory troops in election battle
  • STILL didn't know when general election will be
  • ANSWERED your quickfire questions
  • CLASHED with fuming cabbie over small boats crisis
  • DENIED claims homeless people will be fined for being smelly
  • PROMISES he WILL tackle disgraceful conditions for veterans
  • INSISTED his plan IS working as he hailed tax cuts

Pressure is mounting on Mr Sunak to grip the Channel crisis following a surge in arrivals that has already seen more than 5,000 cross from France this year. 

After solid progress last year, the current rate is around 43 per cent higher than the same period in 2023 as the Calais smuggling gangs cram ever more people into the dinghies.

The hardline Reform Party is rising in the polls, while frustrated Sun readers bombarded us with questions for the PM about the immigration issue.

You can watch Mr Sunak tackle your burning questions on and The Sun's YouTube channel.

Rishi's vow will be music to our readers' ears

Analysis by Ryan SabeyDeputy Political Editor, The Sun

Rishi had a lot to say: we're not far off the local elections, not far off the general election.

But I think the most interesting thing that he came out with is the ECHR.

He's talking about how border security and illegal migration was the most important thing and more important than being a member of any single foreign court.

And I think that will be music to the ears of lots of conservative MPs who have been pushing this over the past few years.

It's certainly been ramping in the last couple of years since Rishi Sunak has been PM just because they want to get on top of a subject that means a lot to our readers.

A lot of them cast their votes on that.

He is opening the door and paving the way [to leaving the ECHR].

If you’re on the back benches, when you watch his comments and read them, you'll be thinking this opens the door to a major step change in what he’s thinking.

Vowing to “get this thing done”, Mr Sunak said: “On this I’ve been very clear. I believe that our scheme - including the Rwanda part of it - is compliant with all our international obligations, including with the ECHR.

“But I believe that border security and controlling illegal migration is more important than our membership of any foreign court.”

When pressed by political editor Harry Cole, the PM said it was “fundamental to our sovereignty as a country” and did not rule out making it an election pledge.

He added: “It’s why I’ve spent so much of my time as Prime Minister talking about it.

“I come from a family of immigrants - and I think this will always be a welcoming, compassionate country - but that has to be done fairly, it has to be done legally.

“We are a people who wait their turn, pay their fair share, play by the rules, and this offends every one of those notions. That’s why it’s so important that we grip it.

“And the choice at the next election is who is more likely to grip this problem. Is it me or is it Keir Starmer? 

“I can tell you I will get this thing done for everyone, especially all your Sun readers.”

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

Rishi Sunak


RISHI Sunak faced Sun readers Wednesday in a no-holds-barred grilling.

The PM was quizzed by Political Editor Harry Cole — two weeks after Sir Keir Starmer's appearance on our Never Mind the Ballots show.

And he answered YOUR questions:

Are your trousers too short?

He hit back at critics who claim his trousers are too short and declared how baggy trousers are a real turn-off.

When asked why he wears his trousers up to two inches too short, he laughed: "Well I don't think they are that short." 

Pushed on whether he thought his style was trendy or the latest style, he added: "I tend not to like lots of baggy, baggy stuff at the bottom of my ankle.

"I don't think they are that short."

When did you last go to Wetherspoons?

The PM was also asked when he last went to one of the nation's favourite pub chains Wetherspoons.

He said: "I was in Wetherspoons actually not that long ago. I think it was in Rother Valley actually… doing one of my events talking to everyone there in the local community.

"We have a Wetherspoons at home in Northallerton which is fantastic."

What is your go-to order?

When asked what his go-to order is, he said:  "Well, actually I used to go there with my kids in the old days when I had more time.

"We used to do the junior Park Run, from memory. But we'd go there for breakfast more than anything else, cos I used to like the breakfasts there.

"I think I probably still have the app on my phone."

Do your daughters have a smartphone?

He revealed that his two girls Krishna and Anoushka both got phones as they came to the end of their time at Primary School.

But both the PM and his wife Akshata discuss how to "juggle" about the right thing to do with their time on the devices.

When asked whether the girls have smartphones, he said:  "Yeah. I have two girls 11 and 12, about to be 13, who thankfully probably won't be watching this.

"They do both have phones. And they got them near the end of Primary School.

"I talked to my wife about this a lot. And we're trying to juggle that like all parents are.

"I'm forming my views about what the right to do with my wife."

His remarks will please many Tory MPs who have been calling for Britain to cut ties with the ECHR, which Britain helped found in 1953 but has since faced accusations of failing to adapt to the international migration emergency. 

Former Home Secretary Suella Braverman previously called it a “politicised court” that treads on national sovereignty. 

Critics fear a repeat of the June 2022 saga when an anonymous Strasbourg judge stopped the first flight to Rwanda from taking off by issuing a grounding order in the dead of night. 

Mr Sunak has already vowed to ignore any of these Rule 39 so-called “pyjama injunctions” in the future but until Tuesday was not prepared to leave the court altogether.

Earlier this year ECHR’s chief Siofra O’Leary hit back with a warning member states would be compelled to comply with any of its rulings.

Mr Sunak is hoping to pass the flagship Safety of Rwanda Bill into law when MPs return from the Easter Holidays in two weeks. 

Peers in the House of Lords - who have been holding it up until now - are expected to cave.

Mr Sunak remained tight-lipped over whether an airline had been found to fly illegal migrants to the East African country or was planning to use RAF planes.


What is the Rwanda plan?

Under the plan, anyone who arrives in Britain illegally will be deported to Rwanda, a country in eastern Africa.

The government believes the threat of being removed to Rwanda will deter migrants from making the dangerous Channel crossing in small boats.

Once in Rwanda, their asylum claims will be processed but there is no route back to the UK, save for some exceptional circumstances such as individual safety concerns. Britain will pay for migrants to start a new life in Rwanda. 

What’s the hold up?

First announced by Boris Johnson in 2022, the scheme has been bogged down by relentless legal challenges.

The first flight was due to take off in summer 2022, but was blocked on the runway at the last minute by a European Court order.

Since then the legality of the plan has been contested in the courts, culminating in a Supreme Court judgement in November last year which said Rwanda was unsafe for asylum seekers. 

What is Sunak doing?

To salvage the Rwanda plan from the Supreme Court’s scathing ruling, Rishi Sunak announced a two-pronged workaround.

First, he would sign a new treaty with Rwanda to beef up protections for asylum seekers that will be enshrined in law.

Second, he would introduce new legislation that would declare Rwanda a safe country.

It would mean courts, police and officials would have to treat it as safe unless there is a risk of individual and irreparable harm.

How long will that take?

The legislation has cleared the Commons but is now being held up in the House of Lords. 

Rishi Sunak does not have a majority in the Lords, and peers are far more hostile to the plan.

They will likely send it back to the Commons with amendments watering down the scheme.

Such changes would be unconscionable to MPs who would strip out the measures and send it back.

This “ping-pong” will continue until either side - usually the unelected Lords - gives in and the Bill passes.

When will flights take off?

Mr Sunak wants to get the first flights sent to Rwanda by the spring. 

But potential hurdles include more court battles launched by individual migrants or the European Court of Human Rights. 

Mr Sunak has vowed to ignore any more orders by Strasbourg judges to ground planes, although individual appeals in domestic courts could prove tricky.

Sir Keir Starmer has said he will scrap the scheme if he is elected PM, even if it is working.

But he said: “I’m highly confident we can operationalise the policy as we’ve said.”

The PM acknowledged the Rwanda policy was not perfect, but accused Labour of “sniping from the sidelines” for lack of a plan of their own. 

Sir Keir has said he would axe the removal scheme - which has so far cost around half a billion pounds - even if it was helping to curb Channel crossings.

During his grilling on The Sun’s new politics show, Mr Sunak was also shown a chart illustrating Nigel Farage’s Reform Party nipping at his heels in the polls.

The defiant PM insisted: “There’s going to be lots of polls, but what matters is the general election.”

London cabbie Grant Davis - who is transport secretary in the Sun’s Cabinet - said the small boats crisis is the number one issue people raise in the back of his taxi. 

Mr Sunak also dismissed Reform’s policy of pushing the boats back like they did in Australia, saying it was too dangerous with such rickety dinghies. 

He spoke as the latest measures to curb legal migration from record levels kicked in. 

From today skilled workers must earn at least £38,700 to get a visa, up from £26,200. 

The Sun Cabinet verdict

Dr Bhasha Mukherjee, Sun Health Secretary

TRAINEE GP Bhasha asked why the PM refused to settle the junior doctors’ pay dispute which is adding to waiting lists.

Bhasha, 28, said: “I don’t think he actually understands what it is like to be a doctor in the current climate. We’re not feeling valued.”

Hugh Andree, Sun Defence Secretary

EX-ARMY Captain Hugh asked the PM if it was acceptable for forces personnel to live in sub-standard accommodation.

Hugh, 55, said: “It felt like the PM was really listening. I asked him a very specific question. He gave a straight answer. ‘No, that is not acceptable’.”

Taxi driver Grant Davis, Sun Transport Secretary

LONDON cabbie Grant asked why the PM would not allow a referendum on net zero.

Grant, 60, said: “He ruled out a proper referendum on net zero and said the general election would be like a referendum.

“To me that’s like kicking the can down the road.”

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