This article appears as part of the Unspun: Scottish Politics newsletter.

The Conservatives' Rwanda Bill is an assault on the rule of law which would make Hungary’s authoritarian ‘strongman’ Viktor Orban proud. It’s a frankly Soviet attempt to rewrite the very concept of reality.

As Lord Garnier, the former Conservative solicitor-general, made abundantly clear to the BBC: “It’s an extraordinary bill – it’s trying to define things when there is no evidence for that being the case. It’s rather like a bill that’s decided all dogs are cats.”

Perhaps the most egregious, downright dangerous aspect of the bill is that it compels judges to treat Rwanda as a safe country. The Supreme Court has already ruled that Rwanda is not safe.

Thus, the whiff of the Soviet politburo: if you don’t like a particular reality, just legislate it out of existence. However, such legislation doesn’t change reality, it merely puts a bullet in the rule of law.

Why should any of us respect common principles of decency, truth and fact if our own government refuses to do the same?

This Tory government has progressed a long way down the path to the hard, even far, right. This move takes them near a place that nobody wishes to name… just yet.

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If the Tory government can simply declare Rwanda safe, what else can they simply declare in the future? How might that affect your freedoms?

How Rishi Sunak’s government hopes to achieve this magic trick – conjuring Rwanda from unsafe to safe – is by giving ministers the power to disregard sections of the Human Rights Act (HRA).

The intention is to prevent courts from considering evidence about Rwanda once again. Judges will be ordered to ignore sections of the HRA that set out how courts interpret safeguards in the European Convention of Human Rights, including the right not to be tortured, and to a fair hearing.

The Rwanda Bill also prevents judges from considering other international laws like the Refugee Convention. The bill says the courts must ignore any British laws that stand in the way of finding Rwanda safe.

The Herald: Rishi Sunak hopes to change Rwanda's status from unsafe to safe by giving power to disregard the Human Rights ActRishi Sunak hopes to change Rwanda's status from unsafe to safe by giving power to disregard the Human Rights Act (Image: Newsquest)
As Dominic Casciani, the BBC’s legal affairs correspondent, said: “Taken to a hypothetical extreme, if Rwanda exploded with civil war like in 1994… British law would still state the country was a safe place to send people.”

There’s one tactic guaranteed to destroy democracy: the corrosion of reality. If we cannot all agree to basic facts, then we’re done as a system.

There is, however, the possibility that Scottish courts could derail this Rwanda scheme. Human Rights is devolved by the Scotland Act. The Scottish Government says: “We work within that legal framework.”

In Scotland, the government states, “civil and political rights are protected by the Human Rights Act 1998 and provisions in the Scotland Act 1998. These rights come from the European Convention on Human Rights. Other rights are also recognised under international treaties which apply to Scotland”.

If the Rwanda Bill undermines Scots law, then the opportunity to challenge it in the courts exists, including Scotland’s Supreme Court.

Read Neil every Friday in the Unspun newsletter.

The lawyer and SNP MP Joanna Cherry said in The Herald’s sister paper, The National: “It would not be the first time the UK Government got a bloody nose from constitutional legal action started in Scotland – that is how we stopped the unlawful proroguing of Parliament.”

She also pointed out that the right to judicial review in Scotland is protected under Article 19 of the Treaty of Union.

It would be a deliciously fitting irony if the extremes of Conservative rule were finally vanquished in a Scottish court, especially given the Tory appetite for using the judiciary to cow Holyrood.