"I have never welcomed the weakening of family ties by politics or pressure" - Nelson Mandela.
"He who travels for love finds a thousand miles no longer than one" - Japanese proverb.
"Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence." - Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
"When people's love is divided by law, it is the law that needs to change". -
David Cameron.

Tuesday 28 February 2017

Personal musings on the MM judgment

The Court of Appeal took what seemed at the time an absurdly long four months to hand down a judgment that caused more anguish to more people than any other I am aware of.  The judges unanimously ruled in the government's favour, despite accepting:

“Admittedly there is a total ban on the entry of non-EEA partners where UK partner cannot reach the required minimum…appreciate that this ban could be life-long.” [147]

The judges admitted the rules lead to British citizens possibly never being able to have their husband or wife in the UK - thus condemning a national of this country to permanent exile, a life apart from their spouse and/or a single-parent upbringing.  Yes you have the right to marry whoever you choose, but not to live with them in your country of nationality.  Like allowing people to buy CD players while keeping the price of CDs unaffordable for the majority of population. (Better analogies welcome!) Yet they judges ruled breaching such a basic right is lawful.

Like others, I consoled myself.  Court of Appeal is known to be more conservative.  I was told it sometimes make extreme judgments to ensure a case finds its way to the Supreme Court.  Then nearly two years on, February 2016 saw arguments being made in front of a panel of seven judges in the highest court in the land: 

  • Best interest of children not dealt with as a primary consideration
  • MIR unreasonably high (three times subsistence level)
  • MIR based on irrational - or at least weak - considerations of reducing burden on taxpayer and promoting integration
  • Parliament cannot have intended to disentitle half the working population from marrying a foreign spouse  
      Fast forward to February 2017, and on the one year anniversary of its hearing, the  Supreme Court handed down its judgment.  If only the wait was worth it. 

I find the judgment bereft of even a basic understanding of what these rules are doing to families. Okay, I'm not a judge or a lawyer.  I don't even have a law degree.  Maybe that's why I am left bemused, but also why I feel freer to voice my dismay and confusion.  Taking a year to hand down a judgment - this judgment - in a case which has been with the courts since 2013 and known to affect thousands British citizens is unacceptable.  

Yes, the judges apologised for the delay - there were other cases with similar issues they said.  I disagree. Unlike the other cases, evidence was presented that here we have British citizens whose relationship was not formed when immigration statuses of their partners was precarious.  The spouses do not have a criminal record.  There is no question mark over the genuineness of the relationships or how subsisting they are - save for the UK government intent on dividing families.  Even in BritCits' own membership, we have couples who keep Skype on on one screen, and together press the play button for Netflix on another, so that even across different continents they can maintain a semblance of normality.  This is echoed across families all over, a generation of kids growing up with Skype mummies and daddies. 

Much of the evidence put forward by the MM lawyers is just not addressed. There are arithmetic errors in the judgment.  It is devoid of any understanding of the hardship caused to families in expecting tribunals to rectify ridiculous Home Office refusals - the ever increasing waiting times for hearings, the expense of legal and court filing fees, the stress while the years pass by, all ignored. 

This is by no means an invitation to imitate the Daily Mail and attack the judges.  I have no doubt they simply did what they are legally obliged to.  I think they could have done more, and better.  But I am hardly unbiased. 

The problem is really with our political system where those who are elected and paid to represent us do so little.  Nadhim Zahawi spoke out against the Trump ban only when he realised it affected him.  He said as much on the Marr show.  Representatives should not have to personally experience an injustice before they speak out against it.  The opposition took the judgment lying down too.  Politicians for the most part just do not get it.

But I digress.  The Supreme Court judgment is not what I expected nor what families deserve.  However it's not all doom and gloom.  My next post on this topic will be a detailed overview of the judgment and more positive.  Well, a tad at least.


  1. It just shows that since the setup of the Supreme Court it has focused on what is legal instead of providing justice under the English Common Law tradition. Let us not forget that historically many human rights violations and atrocities were done legally. (e.g. slavery, Apartheid, interment, concentration camps etc)

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  3. I just want to say a huge thank you for all the hard work you have done on behalf of all of us. You really have done a tremendous job, and the focus of the Supreme Court (as eloquently summarised by London Mark above) is beyond our control at present. Our only hope now it run an effective media campaign with the help of our MPs and force the government to apply justice in light of the ruling. I am happy to help in any way I can. My husband and I are not separated; we are living here in the UK because while we were here on a visit, because of a sudden act of judicial persecution in his country were unable to return. I didn't have an income here and so we were forced to go down the asylum route. 1.5 years of living in dire and depressing poverty later, he has been refused. Out of the frying pan into the fire, from one form of persecution to another. This injustice is incredible and we owe it to ourselves and future British mixed families to keep fighting.

    1. Hi Sandra, apologies for the late reply. Thank you for the appreciation of our work - it's, well, much appreciated :) Indeed, the campaigning continues nevertheless, as people should not have to jump into the fire so to speak, simply to live with family.