Boris Johnson backs Tory rebels in major clash with Rishi Sunak over Rwanda Bill

Boris Johnson backs Tory rebels in major clash with Rishi Sunak over Rwanda Bill

Rishi Sunak is set to clashed with Tory Rightwingers backed by Boris Johnson in a high-stakes Commons showdown over the Government’s flagship Rwanda Bill today.

The Prime Minister was expected to dig in on Tuesday afternoon against more than 60 backbenchers demanding changes to the legislation, including Tory party deputy chairmen Lee Anderson and Brendan Clarke-Smith.

Despite threats from some Rightwing hardliners, including ex-Home Secretary Suella Braverman, to vote to kill the bill if it is not amended, Mr Sunak was expected to get it through the Commons.

Only a relatively small number of Tory MPs were believed to be prepared to vote with Labour, if the amendments are rejected, to block the Safety of Rwanda Bill.

But Mr Sunak was still being hit by a furious onslaught to change the bill in another explosion of Tory civil war.

Ahead of six hours of debate on the bill, ex-PM Mr Johnson waded into the Tory infighting, backing the rebels.

“This bill must be as legally robust as possible - and the right course is to adopt the amendments,” he tweeted.

But Cabinet minister Mel Stride urged Tory backbenchers to “unite behind our clear plan” as the Government appeared to be sticking to its guns.

“It’s vital that we stick to our plan, get this legislation through, get that deterrent there so that we can really start to stop the boats,” he told Times Radio.

Mr Sunak was expected by some rebels to make some more commitments, such as using 150 judges to speed up the asylum appeals system, to try to beef up the Government’s attempts to “stop the boats” but not to accept any of the amendments.

The bill allows ministers to disapply some parts of the Human Rights Act regarding deportation flights to Rwanda, restricting possible legal challenges, but does not go as far as overriding the European Convention on Human Rights.

It also controversially declares that the East African country is a “safe” place to send asylum seekers and economic migrants who arrive in the UK by “small boats” after a new treaty was signed with Kigali and other changes.

Amendments backed by around 60 MPs would disapply international law from the Bill and severely limit individual asylum seekers’ ability to appeal against being put on a flight to Kigali.

Mr Anderson tweeted: “I have signed the Cash & Jenrick amendments. I will vote for them.”

But moderate, Centrist Tory MPs oppose the amendments and may vote against the bill if it is strengthened and breaches international law.

Ahead of the debate at committee stage of the bill, the UN’s refugee agency said the Government’s Rwanda plan was still in breach of international law.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said the plan, which includes the Rwanda Bill and a recently signed treaty with Kigali, was “not compatible” with international refugee law.

Former Tory Solicitor General Lord Garnier has branded the legislation as “rather like a bill that has decided that all dogs are cats”.

The Supreme Court judgment last year highlighted several serious concerns about Rwanda plan that would need addressing before the policy could be considered lawful.

Mr Anderson and Mr Clarke-Smith are not members of the Government so Mr Sunak has more leeway over whether to sack them, or not, as party deputy chairs for backing amendments.