EUROPEAN human rights judges triggered fury last night by grounding the Rwanda migrant flight only minutes before take-off.
Lawyers succeeded in having all remaining seven migrants hauled off the jet, which was waiting on the runway.
British judges had slapped down their appeals but the European Court of Human Rights got an injunction over the removals.
The controversial Rwanda plan could now be grounded for weeks, or even months.
Britain is still a member of the ECHR but the PM could now look to scrap that and change the law.
And in explosive remarks, Boris Johnson also accused lawyers representing migrants of “abetting the work of criminal gangs”.
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Mr Johnson and Home Secretary Priti Patel are now braced for more legal challenges as they try to get Africa flights off the ground.
Last-minute appeals were hurled at the Government in a bid to stop the flight taking off at 9.30pm from Boscombe Down military airfield in Wiltshire.
Various UK courts had ruled the removal flight — designed to deter migrants from making the perilous Channel crossing — could go ahead.
Amid stalemate, the PM said he was “inclined” to change the way lawyers can challenge policies.
He said they are very good at picking up ways to try to stop the Government “upholding what we think is sensible law”.
With the lawyers representing the migrants in his sights, Mr Johnson added: “We want people to be able to come here. We want them to do it legally and safely. Will it be necessary to change some laws? It may very well be.”
As the Rwanda policy was blasted by lawyers, luvvies and barmy bishops, the Prime Minister hit out at those challenging his work to strengthen Britain’s border.
At a Cabinet meeting, Mr Johnson said: “They are, I’m afraid, undermining everything that we’re trying to do to support safe and legal routes for people to come to the UK and to oppose the illegal and dangerous routes.”
‘Undermining people’s confidence’
The number of migrants on the first flight was whittled down from more than 130 to only a handful by yesterday evening.
Mr Justice Swift rejected four late appeals in London’s High Court, while the Supreme Court threw out an attempt to stop the flight.
But the European Court of Human Rights blocked one person being deported hours before take-off — which then sparked late appeals from the remaining six.
The Strasbourg court has a long history of clashing with the Government, including over a call for prisoners to be granted the vote.
Earlier in the day, the angry PM insisted human rights lawyers were “undermining people’s confidence in the safe and legal system, undermining people’s general acceptance of immigration”.
Despite the setback, he vowed to get flights off the ground adding: “It may take a while to get working properly, that doesn’t mean we aren’t going to keep going.” Downing Street hopes to have another flight ready and filled within “weeks”.
But Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby continued his political intervention over the plan. He said the policy “shames us as a nation.”
And Sarah Ferguson, the former wife of disgraced Prince Andrew, also weighed in.
When asked on Times Radio if she thought it was “immoral”, she said: “So I feel really strongly my answer has to be: Are you sure you have listened to the needs of the person that is displaced?”
Amid a flurry of protests near the MoD airfield yesterday — and as another 300 migrants, including babies and toddlers, landed on Britain’s shores after crossing the Channel from France — Tory MPs slammed the blockade.
Tom Hunt said it was “telling” that many of the most vocal critics of the Rwanda policy are members of elite society who have never had to live with the consequences of uncontrolled illegal immigration — the issue that he said the Rwanda policy is designed to tackle.
He added: “It should never be OK to rock up on our beaches illegally having come from another safe European country and then be able to stay here.”
A spokeswoman for the Government of Rwanda said they did not see the flight as a “punishment”.
She said they expected to receive “thousands” of migrants during the partnership, which will see the UK invest £120million in growth and development in Rwanda as well as picking up the resettlement costs.
The spokeswoman said: “Rwanda has a strong record of providing safety for those in danger.
“When the first flight lands in Kigali, the arrivals will be welcomed and be looked after and supported to make new lives here.”
The PM’s official spokesman defended the cost of the policy following claims the first flight could leave taxpayers with a £500,000 bill.
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A jet — used by top Spanish footie teams including Real Betis — was hired to move the migrants.
But the spokesman said it was a drop in the ocean compared to “the cost of the current approach to the UK taxpayer, which is £1.5billion every year already”.