How the Rwanda plan and the new Brexit crisis are linked

ITV News Political Editor Robert Peston explains how and why some of Boris Johnson's recent policy initiatives have attracted a huge backlash from unexpected quarters

The government is citing protection of the Belfast Good Friday as reason to unilaterally revise the Northern Ireland Protocol it agreed with the EU as a pillar of Brexit.

This puts it in a very difficult position today in challenging the ability of the European Court of Human Rights, guarantor of the European Convention on Human Rights, to frustrate the expulsion of asylum seekers to Rwanda.

Because the Belfast Agreement includes an explicit provision that the European Convention on Human Rights would be incorporated into Northern Ireland law “with direct access to the courts and remedies for breach of the Convention”.

So if Boris Johnson modifies the UK’s adherence to the Convention, and sticks to his claimed NI Protocol imperative of protecting the Belfast Agreement, presumably he would have to carve out an exception for Northern Ireland.

That would create a new border between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, of the sort that both he and NI’s unionist parties say they hate.

The integrity of the UK is a delicate structure.

Modifying important law so that the controversial Rwanda policy can be made more than an expensive symbol - legal reform to allow asylum seekers to actually be expelled - could have serious unintended consequences.

It is also worth remembering that after the Second World War the UK was one of the nations that created the ECHR as a way of enforcing international standards of human decency.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know