Commitment to the fight will be more important than ever given the nasty blow dealt today by the devastating judgement handed down by the Court of Appeal in the case of MM & Others - the judicial review challenging the spousal income requirement. In a dramatic departure from the approach taken in the High Court a year ago, the Court of Appeal upheld the Home Office appeal in all three of the test cases.
The Court found that although the family migration rules were discriminatory in their effect, the government had had a legitimate objective in introducing them (to reduce the impact of immigration on the public purse), as well as a 'rational' basis for establishing the rules. The rules were therefore found not to be unlawful. Read Migrants Rights Network's fuller review of the judgement and its implications here and our reaction in the media (BBC News and the Guardian).
It would be hard to overstate the disappointment and frustration caused by this judgement, particularly for the families who have been anxiously waiting in the hope of an imminent rule change, but it must be seen as a set-back and not a defeat. It is now likely that the case will go to the Supreme Court and that the legal battles will continue, perhaps over many months to come. In the meantime, campaigners must focus on winning the public and political arguments ahead of the 2015 general election, and redouble our efforts to make this happen.
Support will continue to come from all quarters. Mumsnet has offered to feature the family migration campaign over the coming weeks on its website, and Citizens UK now intends to take up the spouse income requirement as a key priority area ahead of the next election. These campaigns will help to bring on board new supporters and build the profile of the issue. Impressing on politicians and other political influencers the importance of this issue and the moral imperative to change the rules, is the best hope in the foreseeable future of winning the battle for fairer rules.
For the sake of the families affected by the rules, this must happen sooner rather than later, and we remain committed to doing all we can to help bring it about.