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Rishi Sunak news – live: PM urges mutinous Tories to ‘unite or die’ over Rwanda ahead of key vote

Rishi Sunak has urged mutinous Tory MPs to “unite or die” ahead of a key Commons vote on his controversial bid to save his party’s ailing plan to send asylum-seekers to Rwanda.

The prime minister harkened back to the first days of his premiership with the call to MPs at a meeting of the 1922 Committee this week, according to The Times, which carried claims that some Cabinet ministers are “on manouevres” in case of an earlier-than-expected Tory leadership race.

There are claims that nearly two-dozen MPs have submitted no confidence letters, and in an olive branch to rebels, Mr Sunak is said to be “happy to have conversations” about his Rwanda plan’s future, providing the Bill – disliked by both Tory moderates and hardliners – passes through the Commons.

It is a last-ditch bid to get planes in the air after the Supreme Court ruled the government’s previous plans illegal. The legislation gives ministers the powers to disregard sections of the Human Rights Act, but does not go as far as allowing them to dismiss the European Convention on Human Rights.

Key Points

  • No 10 declines to say if it will compromise with rebels

  • Government open to compromise on bill - minister

  • Rwanda deal costs will rise to £290m

  • 18 Tories have submitted no confidence letters - report

  • Sunak begs Labour to back Rwanda plan and he insists Tories not a ‘joke’

Sunak must be investigated for ‘hushed-up’ £100m payment to Rwanda, Lib Dems say

15:22 , Athena Stavrou

Rishi Sunak must be investigated over whether he breached the ministerial code by failing to declare a £100 million payment to Rwanda, the Liberal Democrats have argued.

The Prime Minister’s ethics adviser, Sir Laurie Magnus, was urged to look into the failure to declare the latest payment under the asylum policy for eight months.

The payment – sent to Kigali in April on top of the £140 million already paid – was only revealed in a letter to MPs sent by the Home Office’s top civil servant, Sir Matthew Rycroft, on Thursday.

Lib Dem MP Christine Jardine said it is “outrageous” that the public was “kept in the dark about the true costs of the Rwanda deal for eight months”.

“The public deserves transparency, not hushed-up backroom dealings. We need an urgent inquiry to get to the bottom of this,” she said.

The Liberal Democrats have urged Rishi Sunak’s ethics adviser Sir Laurie Magnus to investigate his failure to declare a £100m payment to Rwanda (PA Wire)
The Liberal Democrats have urged Rishi Sunak’s ethics adviser Sir Laurie Magnus to investigate his failure to declare a £100m payment to Rwanda (PA Wire)

Sunak ‘did not think highly of Rwanda policy’ while chancellor

14:57 , Andy Gregory

Rishi Sunak and his team at the Treasury did not think highly of the Rwanda policy when it initially crossed the then-chancellor’s desk in spring 2022, according to a report.

Mr Sunak and his colleagues privately raised concerns with Boris Johnson’s Downing Street and Cabinet ministers about whether the Rwanda scheme would work and would provide value for money, six people involved in the discussions told the outlet.

While chancellor, he is also claimed have pushed for more foreign graduates to be allowed to stay post-study, for migrant workers to be able to bring dependents, and for a lower salary threshold to enable more foreign workers, all in pursuit of economic growth, the six people reportedly said – running in stark contrast to the new policies outlined by his government this week.

Ex-minister backs Jenrick’s hardline immigration article

14:43 , Andy Gregory

Tory former minister Simon Clarke, who weeks ago called for Rishi Sunak to call a snap election if the Lords blocks his emergency Rwanda legislation – has thrown his backing behind Robert Jenrick’s op-ed in the Telegraph today.

The Truss-era communities secretary called for “nothing less than a paradigm shift”, as he appeared to back Mr Jenrick’s calls for the UK to abandon the European Convention on Human Rights.

Rishi Sunak set to be grilled on lockdown doubts at Covid inquiry

14:04 , Adam Forrest, Political Correspondent

Rishi Sunak is set to be grilled about his controversial Eat Out to Help scheme and his doubts about lockdown curbs when he appears at the Covid inquiry on Monday.

The PM – fighting to save his premiership after failing to appease Tory MPs with his Rwanda legislation – will come under pressure to explain his actions as chancellor during the pandemic.

Mr Sunak is expected to be questioned about his previous claims that scientific advisers were handed too much power, and his views on the damage done by lockdowns.

In an interview during the Tory leadership contest last August, the former chancellor said the “problem” had been: “If you empower all these independent people you’re screwed.”

Mr Sunak also told The Spectator that he “wasn’t allowed to talk about the trade-offs” of Covid lockdowns – including its impact on the economy, schools and NHS waiting lists.

Rishi Sunak set to be grilled on lockdown doubts at Covid inquiry

Sunak facing ‘Brexit-style’ struggle like Theresa May, says ex-No 10 official

13:40 , Adam Forrest, Political Correspondent

Gavin Barwell, Theresa May’s former chief of staff at No 10, has said the uphill battle faced by Rishi Sunak is similar to the parliamentary Brexit wars while brought down his former boss.

“It feels very late 2018, early 2019,” Lord Barwell told The Telegraph – who suggested it was difficult to see how right-wingers and moderates could be reconciled, even if the bill passes the first reading stage on Tuesday.

“It’s all a bit Brexit isn’t it?” The Tory peer said on Times Radio. He added: “It feels like the party is back in that ungovernable space, that unleadable space. You’ve got these two wings of the party and it’s very difficult to see where the landing zone is.”

Mr Sunak has been warned that he is facing a “Brexit-style” legislative campaign by a group of up to 30 hardliners who will keep pushing for more.

“The gang of 30 are using this legislation as a Trojan horse to leave the ECHR and to pick a fight and attack Rishi,” one Tory MP told the i newspaper.

Iain Duncan Smith urges Tory MPs to pass the bill that gets ‘flights off to Rwanda’

13:18 , Adam Forrest, Political Correspondent

Sir Iain Duncan Smith has urged Tory MPs to pass a bill that “get those flights off to Rwanda” – which stops short of an endorsement for Rishi Sunak’s legislation in its current form.

The former Tory leader told The Telegraph: “The reality is that we are in a more febrile state than under [Sir] John Major. John Major took us to the election.”

“We’ll have had three prime ministers in this period, which is unprecedented really. That means this infighting will carry on, because it’s not settled.

A hardliner on immigration, Sir Ian added: “The one way out of this, both electorally and internally, is that we decide collectively that getting those flights off to Rwanda is critical and we pass a law to achieve that.”

‘Back the bill’, Dominic Raab tells Tory rebels

13:01 , Adam Forrest, Political Correspondent

Dominic Raab has said Conservatives MPs “should back the [Rwanda] bill, rather than let the best be the enemy of the good”.

Writing for The Telegraph, the former justice secretary urging rebels to “tighten up” the legislation at committee stage rather than vote it down on Tuesday.

Raab said he accepted that the bill “leaves open the possibility that the individual circumstances of a case could render a migrant at particular risk” – but hoped the Supreme Court would need “truly exceptional circumstances to bar removal”.

The former deputy PM said he was confident the legislation “prevents the UK courts from relying on interim measures from the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg as grounds for blocking removal”.

Nigel Farage will find it ‘very hard to resist’ political comeback, says ally

12:43 , Andy Gregory

Nigel Farage could soon stage a return to frontline politics by playing a leading role for the Conservatives’ right-wing rivals Reform UK, the party’s leader has said.

Richard Tice said the star of ITV’s I’m a Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here! would find it “very hard to resist” a big comeback ahead of the next year’s general election.

Some senior Tories have suggested they would like to see Mr Farage join the Tories – with one MP suggesting he could be given a peerage and made home secretary. However, Mr Tice suggested Mr Farage was keen to take up a prominent role for Reform UK once again, the party he co-founded from the ashes of the Brexit Party.

“He needs to make the judgment – does he want to come back full time into politics?” the Reform leader told The Telegraph.

Our political correspondent Adam Forrest reports:

Nigel Farage will find it ‘very hard to resist’ political comeback, says ally

Braverman praises Jenrick for article warning Rwanda vote won’t work

11:59 , Andy Gregory

Sacked home secretary Suella Braverman has praised Robert Jenrick – who this week voluntarily followed her out of the door of the Home Office – for “putting principle before career”, as she shared his Telegraph op-ed warning that Rishi Sunak’s Rwanda legislation is doomed to fail.

“He knows the detail. It is very concerning that he can’t defend the Bill,” Ms Braverman said, in a blow to Mr Sunak as he hopes to persuade MPs to back him in Tuesday’s vote.

She added: “The public are relying on us to stop the boats. What do we say to them when we pass another law that fails? Time is running out.”

General election would not be single-issue ballot on immigration, says ex-Tory minister

11:42 , Andy Gregory

Former Tory minister David Lidington has rejected a suggestion that Rishi Sunak should call an early general election if he fails to pass his Rwanda legislation through parliament and seek to make it a single-issue vote on immigration.

“There’s a case both for & against an early GE but (whatever PM wanted) can’t see it being a single issue campaign. That’s what Ted Heath discovered in Feb 1974,” he tweeted, referring to the former Tory leader’s decision to call an election seeking to wrest power away from unions.

And as Matt Chorley of Times Radio notes, the Tories have been polling lower than Labour on immigration since last September, according to YouGov’s tracker.

Sunak’s ethics adviser urged to probe whether PM ‘broke ministerial code’ over Rwanda payment

11:10 , Andy Gregory

Rishi Sunak must be investigated over whether he breached the ministerial code by failing to declare a £100m payment to Rwanda, the Liberal Democrats have urged his ethics adviser Sir Laurie Magnus.

The payment – sent to Kigali in April on top of the £140m already paid – was only revealed eight months later in a letter to MPs sent by the Home Office’s top civil servant, Sir Matthew Rycroft, on Thursday.

Lib Dem MP Christine Jardine urged Mr Magnus to investigate what appeared to be a “clear breach” of the ministerial code, calling it “outrageous” that the public was “kept in the dark about the true costs of the Rwanda deal for eight months”.

“The public deserves transparency, not hushed-up backroom dealings. We need an urgent inquiry to get to the bottom of this,” she said.

While Sir Laurie can privately raise matters that could have been breaches of the rules, he cannot launch an investigation without approval from the prime minister.

ICYMI: Britain facing surge of salmonella cases because of Brexit, union warns

10:52 , Andy Gregory

Britain is facing a surge in salmonella cases due to a lack of post-Brexit quality checks on food, a union has warned.

The National Farmers Union told The Independent that the UK was seeing recurring cases of salmonella because meat, poultry and eggs have not been checked properly since leaving the EU.

It comes as the Food Standards Agency (FSA) said it was investigating a recent rise in cases of salmonella food poisoning linked to poultry from Poland.

“A number of the cases have involved the consumption of eggs produced in Poland and used in meals in restaurants and cafes,” said Tina Potter, head of incidents at the FSA.

My colleague Alexander Butler has the full report:

Britain facing surge of salmonella cases because of Brexit, union warns

Keir Starmer insists he’s no Thatcher ‘fan boy’ and says she did terrible things

10:38 , Adam Forrest – political correspondent

Sir Keir Starmer has attempted to calm the storm of criticism over his comments about Margaret Thatcher by telling a Scottish audience that she did “terrible things”.

The Labour leader sought to draw a line under the row after he appeared to praise the former Tory prime minister and her moves to boost Britain’s “entrepreneurialism”.

On a visit to Scotland on Friday, Sir Keir insisted he is no fan of Ms Thatcher and said that he “profoundly disagrees” with some of her actions.

He said she did “huge damage” to communities across the UK – particularly in Scotland – only days after listing her as among former leaders who delivered “meaningful change”.

Keir Starmer insists he’s no Thatcher ‘fan boy’

Kemi Badenoch pens ‘leadership campaign’ for The Sun

10:19 , Andy Gregory

Trade secretary Kemi Badenoch has written an opinion piece claiming that Brexit has “paid dividends” and looking ahead to the next general election, in what The Independent chief political commentator John Rentoul suggests amounts to the minister’s “leadership campaign in The Sun”.

As The Times claims Ms Badenoch is among potential Tory leadership hopefuls “on manouevres and sounding people out” in the event that Mr Sunak’s premiership collapses, she writes: “Brexit was a vote of confidence by the British people in our country.

“A conviction that we would be better off as masters of our own fate. That conviction has paid dividends and it will keep doing so because I am determined to work day in and day out to reap the benefits of Brexit.

The greatest threat to Brexit Britain’s prosperity booming in the second half of the 2020s is Sir Keir Starmer. A man who, for reasons unknown, clearly yearns for us to blindly copy and paste whatever Brussels does, and whose Shadow Foreign Secretary cannot even rule out rejoining the EU.

“But I for one am confident the British people will act as wisely in 2024 as they did in 2016.”

Robert Jenrick insists Sunak’s asylum plan will fail

10:03 , Andy Gregory

Senior Tory Robert Jenrick – who quit as immigration minister over Rishi Sunak’s Rwanda legislation – has insisted it will fail and accused the PM of failing to keep his word “to do whatever it takes” to “stop the boats”.

In his op-ed for The Telegraph on Saturday, Mr Jenrick said “some of the country’s finest legal minds” have determined that migrants will be able to lodge legal appeals and that they could be “taken off flights in considerable number”.

The ally of sacked home secretary Suella Braverman added: “The idea, therefore, that this bill will guarantee all those arriving are detained and swiftly removed is for the birds.”

Mr Jenrick also said that the Tories will be treated to “red-hot fury at the ballot box” unless they bring down current levels of legal immigration – which he argued makes integration into UK life “impossible”.

Our political correspondent Adam Forrest has more in this report:

Rishi Sunak’s Rwanda plan has only ‘50% chance of success’, say government lawyers

Jenrick argues against ECHR in op-ed showing his drift from Tory centrist to hardliner

09:20 , Andy Gregory

Robert Jenrick, the formerly moderate ally of Rishi Sunak who resigned as immigration minister this week, has written a lengthy piece in the Daily Telegraph warning that the PM’s Rwanda legislation will fail and claiming that the “public’s patience has already snapped” on immigration.

Suggesting a significant drift to the right during his time in office, Mr Jenrick appears to argue in favour of abandoning the European Convention of Human Rights and international asylum law.

He wrote: “Controlling our borders would, of course, be far more straightforward if we extricated ourselves from the complex web of international frameworks that have taken on near mythical status within Government.

“These treaties were designed for a different world and have since been stretched beyond their intention. It will only become painfully more apparent that these outdated treaties cannot be renegotiated any time soon, so they must give way.”

In more inflammatory rhetoric, he concluded: “There is no better example of the failed Westminster consensus over the last 30 years than the historically unprecedented levels of immigration that have been forced on voters against their wish.

“As we are seeing in election after election across Europe, immigration will be a defining issue of 21st century politics. The public’s patience has already snapped. Centre-Right parties across Europe have a choice: begin to deliver on the mainstream concerns of ordinary people when it comes to immigration, or face their red-hot fury at the ballot box.”

Jenrick’s resignation a ‘lightning rod’ for Sunak’s Rwanda critics

08:39 , Andy Gregory

The resignation of Rishi Sunak’s former ally Robert Jenrick as immigration minister has acted as a “lightning rod” to other Tory MPs with concerns about the Rwanda policy, it has been suggested.

“He knows the absolute shambles of the system and if he has concerns about the bill, people are going to sit up and take notice,” one former colleague told The Times. However, others suspect Mr Jenrick’s resignation may have more to do with Mr Sunak’s failure to promote him to Cabinet.

Either way, the paper reported claims that Mr Sunak is “very, very down” and not his “usual Tiggerish self” following Mr Jenrick’s resignation – a suggestion one No 10 source rejected, however, insisting the PM remained upbeat and determined to “bash through” opposition.

Sunak urges Tories to ‘unite or die’ over Rwanda scheme

08:10 , Andy Gregory

Rishi Sunak has urged mutinous Tory MPs to “unite or die” ahead of a key Commons vote on his controversial bid to save his party’s ailing plan to send asylum-seekers to Rwanda.

The prime minister’s call to the 1922 Committee this week, after publishing his emergence Rwanda legislation, echoed his words in the first days of his premiership after taking over from Liz Truss, according to The Times.

Rwanda legislation given ‘50% at best’ chance of success

07:02 , Adam Withnall

Rishi Sunak’s emergency Rwanda legislation has been given only a “50 per cent at best” chance of successfully getting removal flights off next year in an official legal assessment for the government.

Attorney general Victoria Prentis has been told that the legislation leaves a significant risk of the European Court of Human Rights blocking planes to Kigali, the Times first reported.

The assessment is likely to toughen the prime minister’s battle to get his divided Tory MPs to support his new Bill that he hopes will revive the stalled £290 million policy.

Read more:

Sunak’s Rwanda legislation given ‘50% at best’ chance of success

Taxpayers foot £300k energy bill for MPs’ second homes

07:00 , Jane Dalton

Reminder: MPs have charged taxpayers almost £300,000 for energy bills and other utilities at their second homes over the past year, a new analysis by The Independent found:

Taxpayers foot £300k energy bill for MPs’ second homes

Poll gives Labour huge lead

06:00 , Jane Dalton

Labour are up one point and the Conservatives are down three, according to the latest polling, giving Labour a 20-point lead:

Britain facing surge of salmonella cases because of Brexit, union warns

05:00 , Jane Dalton

In case you missed it: Britain is facing a surge in salmonella cases due to a lack of post-Brexit quality checks on food, a union has warned:

Britain facing surge of salmonella cases because of Brexit, union warns

Cleverly begins U-turn on Brexit ban on schools ID cards

04:00 , Jane Dalton

One of the flagship Brexit policies on immigration – banning Europeans from travelling to the UK with only a national identity card – has begun to be quietly reversed:

Home Office U-turn on ID card ban for French school groups

Recap: Sunak rules out quitting ECHR as Braverman attacks

03:00 , Jane Dalton

Rishi Sunak ruled out a radical move to opt out of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) – despite a rebellion by the Tory right that threatens his ‘plan B’ Rwanda legislation:

Sunak rules out quitting ECHR as Braverman attacks PM

Analysis: The questions Rishi Sunak will face at the Covid inquiry

02:02 , Jane Dalton

Rishi Sunak and the Treasury put up some resistance to lockdown measures, on economic grounds, during Covid. On the other hand, they spent £800m on the Eat Out to Help Out scheme. Sean O’Grady looks at what the prime minister will be quizzed on:

The questions Rishi Sunak will face at the Covid inquiry

Bishops in Lords urged to ditch robes

01:00 , Jane Dalton

Bishops in the House of Lords have been encouraged to “modernise their attire and look more normal” by ditching their robes.

Conservative former cabinet minister Virginia Bottomley offered the advice to the Church of England bishops who sit in the upper chamber as peers took part in the annual debate led by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Baroness Bottomley of Nettlestone said: “I passionately want the Lords spiritual to remain but I do not think they enhance their prospects by looking like a Persil advertisement.

“I have spoken to virtually every bishop about removing the robes. You don’t need to wear them.

“So long as the bishop saying prayers — officiating – is wearing a robe, you can then keep the Robing Room, but all the others really should modernise their attire and look more normal, even though in their dog collars and very attractive shirts.”

Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury (Getty Images)
Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury (Getty Images)

Half voters don’t think Rwanda plan is value for money

00:01 , Jane Dalton

Voters are sceptical about whether the government’s Rwanda migrants plan represents good value for money, a poll shows.

In a YouGov survey, nearly half of those questioned (49%) said it was not. Only one in five (20%) said it was, while the other 30% did not know.

Nearly two-thirds of Labour voters disagreed it was value for money, while only slightly more Tory voters said it was not value for money - 36% against 35% who thought it was.

Police investigate professor’s call to ‘blow up’ Jewish Labour meeting

Friday 8 December 2023 23:01 , Jane Dalton

Police are investigating a post by a retired university professor calling on someone to “blow up” a Jewish Labour Movement meeting:

Police investigate professor’s call to ‘blow up’ Jewish Labour meeting

Opinion: Sunak’s obsession with Rwanda has split his party – and reignited Brexit wars

Friday 8 December 2023 21:59 , Jane Dalton

Rishi Sunak has inadvertently reignited the Brexit wars: the leader who was supposed to provide stability has become like Theresa May, who could not bridge the gap between the Tories’ left and right flanks, writes Andrew Grice:

Sunak’s Rwanda plan has split his party – and, worse, reignited the Brexit wars

Sunak offers MPs olive branch to stave off rebellion

Friday 8 December 2023 21:00 , Jane Dalton

Rishi Sunak is extending an olive branch to disgruntled Tory MPs to stave off a rebellion over his Rwanda plan after the cost of the deportation scheme hit £290m:

Rishi Sunak extends olive branch to Tory MPs to stave off rebellion over Rwanda

Highlights of Boris Johnson’s Covid inquiry witness statement

Friday 8 December 2023 20:15 , Jane Dalton

Boris Johnson delivered two days of highly charged Covid testimony this week, ranging from the defiant to the damning to the downright absurd. This is what stood out:

The ten key takeaways from Boris Johnson’s UK Covid inquiry witness statement

Strike minimum service levels take effect

Friday 8 December 2023 19:20 , Jane Dalton

The first regulations aimed at ensuring minimum levels of service during strikes have come into force, the government has announced.

Ministers said the regulations would apply in the rail sector, border security and ambulance services.

For the railways, minimum service levels will mean that rail operators can aim to run 40% of their normal timetable during any strike.

For a strike affecting infrastructure services, certain key routes will also be able to stay open and for longer than is normally the case during strikes, said officials.

A Statutory Code of Practice has also come into force which sets out the “reasonable” steps trade unions should take to ensure their members comply with work notices.

Where minimum service level regulations are in place and strike action is called, employers can issue work notices to identify people who are “reasonably required to work” to ensure minimum service levels are met.

The law requires unions to ensure their members who are identified with a work notice comply, and if they fail to do this, they will lose legal protection from damages claims.

The government has raised the maximum damages that courts can award against a union for unlawful strike action. For the biggest unions, the maximum award has risen from £250,000 to £1 million.

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

Fund manager founded by Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg to close after £2bn withdrawal

Friday 8 December 2023 18:50 , Jane Dalton

A fund manager co-founded by Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg is winding down after its largest client withdrew billions of pounds:

Fund manager founded by Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg to close after client withdraws £2b

No fines for Tory lockdown party in parliament

Friday 8 December 2023 18:27 , Jane Dalton

The Metropolitan Police have closed their investigation into a lockdown birthday party in Parliament by the deputy speaker and issued no fines, they say:

No fines for Tory lockdown party in parliament, Met says

Sunak did not mislead MPs over cost of Rwanda scheme, No 10 says

Friday 8 December 2023 18:00 , Matt Mathers

Rishi Sunak did not mislead MPs over the cost of his troubled Rwanda asylum scheme, Downing Street said, after it emerged the UK paid Kigali an extra £100 million.

The policy attracted fresh criticism when it was revealed the additional payment was made this year, while flights remained grounded amid a series of legal setbacks, on top of the £140 million previously paid out.

Sophie Wingate reports:

Sunak did not mislead MPs over cost of Rwanda scheme, No 10 says

ICYMI: Can Rishi Sunak rescue his Rwanda plan and will Labour really help him?

Friday 8 December 2023 17:00 , Matt Mathers

The prime minister is determined to push on with the policy despite right-wing resistance from within his own party and a hostile opposition, says Sean O’Grady.

Read Sean’s full piece here:

How is Rishi Sunak trying to rescue his Rwanda plan and will Labour really help him?

Immigration minister mocked for claiming there is ‘unity of purpose in parliament’

Friday 8 December 2023 16:30 , Matt Mathers

Tom Pursglove was mocked for claiming there is a “unity of purpose in parliament” on the Rwanda treaty, Rhys Jones reports.

The new immigration minister was speaking on BBC Radio 4 Today when he made the comments on Friday.

“I think there is a unity of purpose on the Conservative benches in parliament that we need to address this issue. The prime minister is showing a lot of leadership on this,” the MP told Amol Rajan.

“I’m genuinely interested in whether or not you’re being sarcastic. Did you just say that there’s a unity of purpose in parliament?” the host quipped back.

Britain facing surge of salmonella cases because of Brexit, union warns

Friday 8 December 2023 16:00 , Matt Mathers

Britain is facing a surge in salmonella cases due to a lack of post-Brexit quality checks on food, a union has warned.

The National Farmers Union said the UK was seeing recurring cases of salmonella because meat, poultry and eggs have not been checked properly since leaving the EU.

Alexander Butler reports:

Britain facing surge of salmonella cases because of Brexit, union warns

Now Keir Starmer says Margaret Thatcher did ‘terrible things’, days after piling praise on the former PM

Friday 8 December 2023 15:45 , Matt Mathers

Keir Starmer has condemned Margaret Thatcher for doing “terrible things”, just days after praising her for “setting loose Britain’s natural entrepreneurialism”.

After the Labour leader faced a backlash from his MPs over his comments about the former prime minister, he told a dinner in Glasgow she did things he “profoundly disagrees with”.

Archie Mitchell reports:

Now Keir Starmer says Margaret Thatcher did ‘terrible things’

Labour secures urgent question on Rwanda payments

Friday 8 December 2023 15:16 , Matt Mathers

Labour has secured an urgent question in the Lords on the Rwanda scheme after the Home Office’s top civil servant, Sir Matthew Rycroft, confirmed payments of £140 million in 2022/23 and a further £100 million in April this year.

Another payment of £50 million is anticipated in 2024/25, Sir Matthew added.

No asylum seeker has been sent to Rwanda so far as flights remain grounded due to a series of legal setbacks.

Earlier Meg Hillier, chair of the public accounts committee, wrote to Sir Matthew demanding  “full and frank answers” on the costings of the deportation scheme.

She and Dame Diana Johnson, chair of the home affairs committee, accused him of an “extreme lack of respect” in the way the figures were disclosed.

The Home Office’s top civil servant released the figures overnight, having refused to do so just days ago, saying it was in the “public interest”.

Downing Street declines to say if it will compromise with rebels

Friday 8 December 2023 14:27 , Matt Mathers

Downing Street declined to say whether or not ministers might reach compromises with would-be rebels over the Rwanda legislation.

A Number 10 spokesman said: “There will be the usual processes and debate next week. I wouldn’t pre-empt that process.

“But we’ll be setting out why we believe our approach is the best and swiftest way to get flights off the ground.”

It comes after minister Tom Pursglove suggested that ministers were open to engaging MPs on their concerns about the Bill ahead of the debate next week.

Conservative MP for Corby Tom Pursglove (PA)
Conservative MP for Corby Tom Pursglove (PA)

Braverman signed off on extra £100m - No 10

Friday 8 December 2023 14:25 , Matt Mathers

Downing Street said the extra £100 million spent by the UK government on its grounded Rwanda scheme was signed off by former home secretary Suella Braverman.

Asked who approved the money, which was sent in April, a No 10 spokeswoman said: “The home secretary. It’s an operational decision to release funding under the MOU.”

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

‘Unforgivable’ Tories have spent £240m on Rwanda - Lib Dems

Friday 8 December 2023 14:15 , Matt Mathers

The Liberal Democrats have said it is “unforgivable” that the Conservative government has now wasted over £240m on the failed Rwanda deal, as analysis reveals this could have funded over 5.7 million GP appointments instead, Archie Mitchell reports.

Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesperson Alistair Carmichael MP said: “The fact that this government is content to squander millions on this totally unworkable white elephant of a policy tells you everything you need to know about their priorities.

“Three home secretaries and millions of taxpayers’ pounds later, the Conservatives have nothing to show for their failing Rwanda policy. It’s an unforgivable waste of taxpayers’ money - and to think this could have paid for more than five million GP appointments just puts salt in the wound.

“It’s time for the Conservatives to accept reality and abandon this impractical, inhumane and extortionately expensive policy.”

Liberal Democrat MP Alistair Carmichael is among those calling for the government to investigate BGI (Aaron Chown/PA) (PA Archive)
Liberal Democrat MP Alistair Carmichael is among those calling for the government to investigate BGI (Aaron Chown/PA) (PA Archive)

Top civil servant hauled before committee over Rwanda costs

Friday 8 December 2023 14:03 , Matt Mathers

Home Office permanent secretary Sir Matthew Rycroft has been summoned to appear before the public accounts committee on Monday, a day before MPs vote on the government’s Rwanda legislation.

“Full and frank answers” on the costings of the deportation scheme are expected from him, home affairs committee chairwoman Dame Diana Johnson and public accounts committee chairwoman Dame Meg Hillier wrote in a letter to the top civil servant.

They said they “would have expected more transparency” from him previously and that they saw “no reason” why he did not disclose extra payments to Kigali when he gave evidence to their committees over the last few weeks.

“Given the high profile of this scheme which is now subject to a major piece of legislation we expect quarterly updates to be provided to Parliament from now on,” they said.

Labour’s Meg Hillier (PA Archive)
Labour’s Meg Hillier (PA Archive)

Deputy PM slams Bristol University’s decision to scrap national anthem

Friday 8 December 2023 13:45 , Matt Mathers

Deputy prime minister Oliver Dowden appears to be threatening to cut funding from the University of Bristol over a report by MailOnline that it has axed the National Anthem from graduation ceremonies amid students’ claims it is “old-fashioned” and “offensive to some”, Archie Mitchell reports.

"If Bristol University are too ashamed of their British heritage, presumably they no longer want to be subsidised by British taxpayer?" Mr Dowden said.

Cummings: ‘It’s already game over for the fake Rwanda gimmick’

Friday 8 December 2023 13:15 , Matt Mathers

Dominic Cummings has said it is "game over" for the Rwanda policy and Rishi Sunak is "out of time", Archie Mitchell reports.

The former chief adviser to Boris Johnson said Mr Sunak was warned "explicitly and repeatedly" that the deportation policy would fail.

And he said the PM is setting the stage for a "useless attempt" next year to claim he has been thwarted by the courts and run a "take back control" election. "It won’t work," Mr Cummings said.

"The Tories are doomed if they keep him and doomed if they spasm and fire him," he added.

ICYMI: Rishi Sunak faces grilling at Covid inquiry next week

Friday 8 December 2023 13:00 , Matt Mathers

Embattled Tory leader Rishi Sunak will be grilled about his actions during the pandemic when he appears before the Covid inquiry on Monday.

The PM is fighting to save his premiership after resignation of immigration minister Robert Jenrick, as he failed to appease the Tory right with his Rwanda legislation.

Adam Forrest reports:

Rishi Sunak faces grilling at Covid inquiry next week

Boris Johnson claims Partygate coverage is ‘million miles’ from truth in extraordinary rewriting of history

Friday 8 December 2023 12:40 , Matt Mathers

Boris Johnson embarked on an extraordinary re-writing of history over Partygate as he gave evidence to the Covid inquiry, insisting the public’s perception of lockdown-breaching parties in No 10 was a “million miles” from the truth.

In comments that will infuriate families bereaved during the Covid pandemic, the former prime minister said the representation of repeated gatherings during the pandemic was “absolutely absurd”.

Archie Mitchell reports:

Johnson: Partygate coverage is ‘million miles’ from truth

Fund manager founded by Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg to close after losing largest client

Friday 8 December 2023 12:20 , Matt Mathers

The fund manager co-founded by Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg is winding down after its largest client withdrew billions of pounds.

London-based Somerset Capital Management said it was in advanced discussions to transfer its key UK funds, along with their investment managers, to a new investment adviser, but would be “closing its wider institutional business in London”.

Full report:

Fund manager founded by Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg to close after losing largest client

Tory minister defends middle finger social media jibe at Labour

Friday 8 December 2023 11:54 , Matt Mathers

A Conservative minister has defended his party’s social media strategy after Tory MPs joined criticism of a post attacking Labour with an image of a BBC News presenter giving the middle finger live on air.

In footage from a BBC news bulletin on Wednesday, chief presenter Maryam Moshiri was seen raising her middle finger to the camera just as the broadcast began.

The on-air blunder attracted considerable attention and prompted an apology from the BBC presenter.

On Thursday the Conservatives used the image on X – formerly known as Twitter – to mock Sir Keir Starmer’s party.

Newly-appointed legal migration minister Tom Pursglove defended his party on Friday.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I’ve not spent an awful amount of time on Twitter in the last 24 hours as you’ll imagine, having just been appointed yesterday and trying to immerse myself in all of the detail.

“But the bottom line is it does highlight the fact that the Labour Party doesn’t have a credible alternative.”

 (UK parliament)
(UK parliament)

Lord Frost urges Tory MPs to replace Rishi Sunak or face ‘electoral car crash’

Friday 8 December 2023 11:37 , Matt Mathers

Lord Frost has said Tory MPs should replace Rishi Sunak as leader, urging them to consider whether the “current path can take us to an election win”.

The former Brexit secretary called on Conservatives not to “resign themselves to the coming electoral car crash, and if they do not believe in the PM to “be doing something about it”.

Archie Mitchell reports:

Lord Frost urges Tory MPs to replace Rishi Sunak or face ‘electoral car crash’

Bill won’t stop ‘litany’ of legal claims - Jenrick

Friday 8 December 2023 11:15 , Matt Mathers

Departed immigration minister Robert Jenrick believes that the government’s draft Rwanda law will be open to a “litany” of legal challenges.

“His view is it will be besieged by a litany of individual petitioners,” a source close to the Newark MP told The DailyTelegraph.

Mr Jenrick quit his government role on Wednesday in protest at the bill, saying that it was a “triumph of hope over experience”.

You can read his resignation letter in full below:

Robert Jenrick’s resignation letter as immigration minister quits over Rwanda plan

Labour lead unchanged at 23 points - poll

Friday 8 December 2023 11:00 , Matt Mathers

Labour’s lead over the Conservatives remains unchanged at 23 points, according to a poll.

A YouGov poll for The Times found both parties’ support unchanged from last week, with the opposition on 45 per cent and the Tories on 22 per cent.

The survey was carried out on 5 and 6 December after home secretary James Cleverly signed a new treaty with Rwanda.

It showed the Lib Dems and Reform UK were up 1 point while the Greens were also unchanged on 7 per cent.

 (The Times/YouGov)
(The Times/YouGov)

Tory MPs must ‘rally around and support’ the Rwanda bill, minister says

Friday 8 December 2023 10:44 , Matt Mathers

Tory MPs must “rally around and support” the Rwanda bill, a government minister has said after suggesting Downing Street was open to amendments from rebels.

“The legislation that we’ve put in place disapplies so many of the grounds that have been relevant to people lodging claims,” Tom Pursglove, minister for legal migration and delivery, told Times Radio.

He added: “Parliament will be able to assert that we consider Rwanda to be a safe country, which will then stop this constant merry go round of opining on that particular point.

“So I do believe actually this is very significant legislation. It’s the strongest piece of a legal migration legislation there has ever been.

“And what I want to see is Conservative MPs to rally around to support it. And I would hope that colleagues across the House will as well.”

Earlier Mr Pulsgrove signalled that ministers could be open to compromises with rebel Tory MPs over Rishi Sunak’s contested Rwanda legislation.

ICYMI: Tories slammed for making migration meme out of BBC presenter giving middle finger

Friday 8 December 2023 10:17 , Matt Mathers

The Conservative Party has been told to “grow up” after it tried to make a meme out of a swearing BBC presenter to criticise Labour on immigration.

On Wednesday Maryam Moshiri, one of the broadcaster’s chief presenters, could be seen holding up her middle finger to the camera as she came back on screen for the midday bulletin. Ms Moshiri quickly realises she is live and swipes her hand away in a flash before going on to read out the headlines about Boris Johnson at the Covid Inquiry.

Barney Davis reports:

Tories slammed for making migration meme out of BBC presenter giving middle finger

‘I can retrieve Boris’s missing WhatsApp messages’ claims former friend Jennifer Arcuri

Friday 8 December 2023 09:56 , Matt Mathers

Jennifer Arcuri, an old friend of Boris Johnson who has a cybersecurity company in the UK, claims she can retrieve WhatsApp messages the former prime minister told the Covid inquiry had been lost.

Mr Johnson this week failed to provide the Covid inquiry with communications from February to June 2020 and denied that he had deleted them.

But  Ms Arcuri, who claimed to have an affair with Mr Johnson, which he denied, told GB News: “I have a cybersecurity company in the UK which I’ve run for many years. Most of the people running the cybersecurity industry in the UK I’ve either worked with directly or are familiar with me.

“But most importantly, they are familiar with my team’s work. So I think I need to stress a few points here that we are kind of glossing over. Information in your phone is not just stored on an app, it’s actually stored throughout the hardware and the operating system.”

She added: “There are data stores throughout both and frequently that means that when information is deleted, a person can recover this information. So we would use our team’s technical abilities to recover and re-evaluate all that data.”

Boris Johnson and Jennifer Arcuri (PA/Getty)
Boris Johnson and Jennifer Arcuri (PA/Getty)

Sunak was warned Rwanda bill was at risk of failing

Friday 8 December 2023 09:30 , Matt Mathers

Two senior lawyers warned Rishi Sunak that his draft Rwanda law “provides an easy” way for migrants to avoid deportation.

The prime minister was told the scheme would be hit by legal challenges and at risk of failing, according to the Times.

The paper reported that legal advice from a senior government lawyer warned “the scheme would be seriously impeded” if the bill did not include a so-called ­“ouster clause” that barred individual legal challenges.

 (PA)
(PA)

No timetable for Rwanda bill getting through parliament

Friday 8 December 2023 09:12 , Matt Mathers

Legal migration minister Tom Pursglove was unable to offer a timetable for when the Rwanda legislation would get through parliament.

Even if rushed through the Commons, it is expected to face serious opposition within the House of Lords.

The minister told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “You’ve got to have consideration in both Houses of Parliament and that does take some time.

“The whips and the leader of the house will come forward in terms of setting out a timetable by which we will seek to do this.

“I want to see this legislation delivered as quickly as possible.”

File photo: Tom Pursglove answers questions in the House of Commons (PA)
File photo: Tom Pursglove answers questions in the House of Commons (PA)

Olive branch as MPs offered chance to amend Rwanda bill

Friday 8 December 2023 08:40 , Matt Mathers

Legal migration minister Tom Pursglove signalled that ministers could be open to compromises with rebel Tory MPs over Rishi Sunak’s contested Rwanda legislation, Archie Mitchell reports.

It is an olive branch which means MPs could seek to make amendments to the bill after having voted for it, which could ease the scale of any rebellion over the plans.

Mr Pursglove told Sky News: “There will be parliamentary debates, there will be opportunities for people to bring amendments, the House will consider them in the normal way and as ministers we will engage constructively with parliamentarians around any concerns that they have and handle that in the way that we would any other piece of legislation.”

Sunak hit by ‘18 no confidence letters'

Friday 8 December 2023 08:21 , Matt Mathers

Eighteen Tories have reportedly submitted letters of no confidence in Rishi Sunak as the prime minister faces a civil war over his Rwanda deal.

One rebel told the Daily Mirror they personally knew the names of 18 MPs who had already put in letters of no confidence - even before Robert Jenrick resigned as immigration minister.

Sunak published a draft bill earlier this week which he claimed would fix the Rwanda deal but it has failed to satisfy both rightwingers and more moderate Tory MPs.

Government minister defends cost of Rwanda deal

Friday 8 December 2023 08:17 , Matt Mathers

Legal migration minister Tom Pursglove has defended the cost of the Rwanda plan after it emerged the cost of the scheme has already reached £240 million.

The newly appointed minister told Times Radio: “We’ve always been clear that this is an economic and migration partnership. We want to support economic development in Rwanda. And of course, there are quite understandably obligations on us to work with Rwanda to make sure that all of the right infrastructure to support the partnership is in place.

“We are going about this work in a constructive way. Part of that money is helpful in making sure that we can respond to the issues properly that the Supreme Court raised, making sure that the capacity is in place to administer the partnership at the first possible opportunity.

“And I think it’s right that we go about this in the way that we are and when you consider that we’re spending £8 million a day currently in the asylum system you have to look at those spends in that context. That is not sustainable.

“And the Rwanda partnership is a key plank in our answer to getting those costs down.”

 (screen grab)
(screen grab)

Lord Cameron backs Rwanda deal

Friday 8 December 2023 07:59 , Matt Mathers

Foreign secretary Lord David Cameron expressed his support for Rishi Sunak over the prime minister’s Rwanda plan, branding it “the right package” despite opposition from hardline Tories.

At a press conference during his trip to the US, he said: “Let me be clear, I support what the government is doing to deal with illegal migration… I think the prime minister has done a good job at coming up with the right package, a treaty with Rwanda that only a couple of weeks ago everyone thought would be impossible, it wouldn’t happen.

“It has happened and it’s a very good treaty. A bill has been published and will be introduced to the House of Commons and a pack of evidence about the true nature of what happens in Rwanda is being put together. I’ve seen that myself and I think it’s very convincing and will overcome the arguments put in the Supreme Court.”

Lord Cameron of Chipping Norton (PA Wire)
Lord Cameron of Chipping Norton (PA Wire)

ICYMI | Rishi Sunak pleads with Tory rebels: Back my Rwanda plan

Friday 8 December 2023 07:27 , Matt Mathers

Rishi Sunak is fighting to save his flagship Rwanda policy – and his premiership – after a desperate defence of his new deportation bill failed to stop a growing revolt by Tory MPs on both sides of the party.

The beleaguered PM dodged questions about whether he could be forced to call a general election if he cannot get the bill through parliament, in the most significant political crisis he has faced at No 10.

Adam Forrest and Kate Devlin report:

Embattled Sunak pleads with Tory rebels: Back my Rwanda plan

Cost of Rwanda deal will rise to £290m - Home Office

Friday 8 December 2023 07:22 , Matt Mathers

Rishi Sunak is facing fresh pressure over his beleaguered Rwanda policy after it emerged the cost of the scheme has already reached £240 million, despite it never being used.

The government spent a further £100 million in the 2023-24 financial year while flights remained grounded amid a series of legal setbacks, on top of the £140 million previously paid out.

According to a letter from the Home Office to committee chairs, ministers expect a further £50 million cost in the coming year, which would bring the total to £290 million.

In a letter published on Thursday to Dame Diana Johnson, chairwoman of the Home Affairs Committee, and Dame Meg Hillier, chairwoman of the Public Accounts Committee, Home Office official Matthew Rycroft wrote: “Ministers have agreed that I can disclose now the payments so far in the 2023-24 financial year. There has been one payment of £100 million, paid in April this year as part of the Economic Transformation and Integration Fund mentioned above.

“The UK government has not paid any more to the government of Rwanda thus far. This was entirely separate to the treaty – the government of Rwanda did not ask for any payment in order for a treaty to be signed, nor was any offered.”

Labour branded the revelation “incredible”, with shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper saying: “How many more blank cheques will Rishi Sunak write before the Tories come clean about this scheme being a total farce?

“Britain simply can’t afford more of this costly chaos from the Conservatives.”

Archie Mitchell reports:

Rishi Sunak’s Rwanda plan has cost £290m - without a single flight taking off

Sunak’s asylum plans a ‘dark day’ for Britain, warns Yousaf

Thursday 7 December 2023 15:30 , Matt Mathers

The UK government’s immigration plans are a “real dark day” for the country, Scotland’s first minister said as he accused the prime minister of dismantling asylum processes.

Humza Yousaf, whose grandfather came to Scotland from Pakistan in the 1960s to work in a sewing machine factory in Clydebank, addressed the issue during First Minister’s Questions on Thursday.

It came as Scottish Conservative leader and Moray MP Douglas Ross told journalists in Holyrood he plans to back the UK Government’s Bill declaring Rwanda a safe destination for asylum seekers.

Full report:

Sunak’s asylum plans a ‘dark day’ for Britain, warns Yousaf

‘Completely ridiculous’ to replace Sunak, admits right-wing Tory

Thursday 7 December 2023 15:15 , Matt Mathers

Some right-wingers have said the Rwanda bill could be “existential” for Rishi Sunak’s leadership. But right-wing Brexiteer Sir Edward Leigh – unhappy with the bill – said replacing him would look “completely ridiculous”, Adam Forrest reports.

Sir Edward told Channel 4 News: “As regards Rishi’s future I’m totally opposed to any change of leader because it would make us look completely ridiculous. We’ve just got to get the bill right.”

Disappointed that the bill allows for legal challenges, he added: “I’m sure the bill is good enough to win through in the courts, but the problem is there are just endless delays so there won’t be any flights to Rwanda before the next election.”

Sir Edward Leigh (YouTube / Sky News)
Sir Edward Leigh (YouTube / Sky News)

Dominic Cummings: Sunak’s position on Rwanda now ‘pure farce'

Thursday 7 December 2023 15:05 , Matt Mathers

Former No 10 strategist Dominic Cummings said Rishi Sunak’s position on Rwanda was now “pure farce”, Adam Forrest reports.

“Sunak tells voters he can only bring in laws if *Rwanda* approves! great ammo for the ECHR campaign to come!” he said.

Some rightwing Tories are calling for  Mr Sunak to pull out of the ECHR but the PM has so far refused to do so.

Moderate Conservatives say pulling out of the convention, which the UK helped to draft, would be a red line.

‘Insanity’ to have another leadership contest before general election - Tory chair

Thursday 7 December 2023 14:52 , Matt Mathers

It would be “insanity” for the Tories to have another leadership contest before the next general election, the party’s chairman has said.

Richard Holden, the Cabinet Office minister without portfolio, made the comment to journalists at a press gallery lunch in parliament.

Mr Holden was promoted to the chair role in Mr Sunak’s reshuffle last month.

Richard Holden (Andrew Matthews/PA) (PA Wire)
Richard Holden (Andrew Matthews/PA) (PA Wire)

Tory right to deliver verdict on Rwanda bill before Tuesday’s vote

Thursday 7 December 2023 14:45 , Matt Mathers

One group of lawyers inspecting Rishi Sunak’s Rwanda legislation are expected to return their judgment to the Conservative Party’s right wing ahead of Tuesday’s vote.

European Research Group chairman and MP Mark Francois said: “We all agree with the prime minister that we need to stop the boats but the legislation to do this must be assuredly fit for purpose.

“To that end...spoke with Sir Bill Cash, who confirmed his star chamber team are already analysing the Rwanda Bill, in detail.

“This may still take a few days to complete but he was confident their findings will be available, at the very latest, prior to the second reading debate on Tuesday.”

European Research Group chairman Mark Francois declined to say how members will vote on the Stormont brake (Gareth Fuller/PA) (PA Archive)
European Research Group chairman Mark Francois declined to say how members will vote on the Stormont brake (Gareth Fuller/PA) (PA Archive)

Asylum seekers can still go to European court, says ex-government legal chief

Thursday 7 December 2023 14:30 , Matt Mathers

The respected Institute for Government think tank has shared analysis by Sir Jonathan Jones – the former government legal chief – who said the Rwanda bill would stop most legal challenges to deportations, but not all of them.

And Mr Jones said asylum seekers would still be able to make claims to the European court in Strasbourg. He said Clause 4 allows claims to be made by asylum seekers “based on compelling evidence relating specifically to the person’s individual circumstances”.

The legal expert said: “What the bill cannot do is prevent claimants going to the European court of human rights in Strasbourg if they have been unable to enforce their rights in the domestic courts.

“The Strasbourg court would not be bound by the UK-Rwanda treaty or by the UK legislation. It would perform its own assessment, on the latest evidence available, as to whether there was a breach of the ECHR.”

Sunak now almost as unpopular as Tory Party

Thursday 7 December 2023 14:15 , Matt Mathers

Rishi Sunak is now almost as unpopular as his party after a year of deteriorating polling numbers, Adam Forrest reports.

Having entered Downing Street considerably more popular than the wider Conservative Party, 52 per cent of voters now say they have an unfavourable view of the prime minister, according to a poll published by Ipsos UK on Thursday.

At the start of the year, 39 per cent of voters told Ipsos they had an unfavourable view of Mr Sunak, compared to 51 per cent saying the same about the Conservative Party.

The figure for the wider party has barely changed, rising slightly to 54 per cent in November, while Mr Sunak’s favourability rating has collapsed.

Keiran Pedley, director of politics at Ipsos, said: “A year of public concern about the cost of living, NHS and immigration now means Mr Sunak is almost as unpopular as the party he leads as he grapples with how to turn their collective fortune around in 2024.”

Rishi Sunak declined to say whether he will call an election if his Bill is defeated (PA) (PA Wire)
Rishi Sunak declined to say whether he will call an election if his Bill is defeated (PA) (PA Wire)

One Nation Tories ‘very nervous’ about Rwanda bill

Thursday 7 December 2023 14:02 , Matt Mathers

Tories on the moderate One Nation wing of the party are “very nervous” about the implications of Rishi Sunak’s Rwanda legislation, a source in the group said, Adam Forrest reports.

The group – which boasts about 100 MPs – has been discussing concerns including that courts cannot override the declaration of the bill that it is a safe country.

The Conservative MPs are yet to have come to a conclusion after hearing the preliminary findings of former solicitor-general Lord Edward Garnier.

Showdown vote on Rwanda bill will happen on Tuesday

Thursday 7 December 2023 13:52 , Matt Mathers

Commons leader Penny Mordaunt has confirmed that Rishi Sunak’s emergency legislation will be debated by MPs for the first time next Tuesday, Adam Forrest reports.

It means the first, all-important vote will happen then. The cabinet minister said it was a “moral crusade to use every single tool that we have to end trafficking of human beings”.

“It does not break international law nor does it blur the distinction between law-makers and those that interpret the law,” she added.

Commons Leader Penny Mordaunt (Peter Byrne/PA) (PA Wire)
Commons Leader Penny Mordaunt (Peter Byrne/PA) (PA Wire)

Attorney general won’t publish legal advice on Rwanda bill

Thursday 7 December 2023 13:42 , Matt Mathers

The Tory attorney general Victoria Prentis has refused to publish any legal advice on Rishi Sunak’s emergency Rwanda law, Adam Forrest reports.

Pushed on the issue in the Commons, she said: “I can’t give the details of the legal advice that I have been giving the government – or whether or not I have been giving such advice – from this despatch box and that remains the case.

The Tory moderate – believed to have resisted push from Robert Jenrick to opt out of the ECHR – said: “I remain very comfortable in my role and I will hope that I remain in this role to give the government legal advice for a long time to come.”

Victoria Prentis, the government’s top law officer (James Manning/PA) (PA Wire)
Victoria Prentis, the government’s top law officer (James Manning/PA) (PA Wire)

Sunak is ‘lame duck’ PM who has lost control, say opposition

Thursday 7 December 2023 13:35 , Matt Mathers

The Liberal Democrats accused Rishi Sunak of being a “lame duck” prime minister after his “new low” press conference pleading for votes on his Rwanda bill, Adam Forrest reports.

Daisy Cooper, the party’s deputy leader, said: “This is desperate stuff from a lame-duck who has lost control of his party.

“Rishi Sunak needs to call an election now so we can end this Conservative chaos and put this government out of its misery.”

From Eat Out to Help Out to ‘let it rip’: The key Covid revelations from Boris Johnson today

Thursday 7 December 2023 13:20 , Matt Mathers

Boris Johnson fell silent for three minutes at the Covid inquiry on Thursday morning as he was confronted by all the times he talked about “letting it rip” through the population.

The former prime minister has been in largely good spirits responding to questioning from Hugo Keith KC, the probe’s lead counsel.

Archie Mitchell reports:

From Eat Out to Help Out to ‘let it rip’: The key Covid revelations today

As a member of ‘polite society’, Ms Braverman, I won’t call you dishonest – but you are wrong

Thursday 7 December 2023 13:00 , Matt Mathers

As a fully-paid up member of “polite society”, I ought to be deeply offended by Suella Braverman’s divisive, poisonous politics, writes Sean O’Grady.

Well, I am. What’s a bit more perplexing, in fact, is that she claims that she’s just telling it like it is, and if her “honesty… upsets polite society, then I’m sorry about that.

Read Sean’s full piece here:

Why Suella Braverman has got it all wrong | Sean O’Grady

Rishi Sunak is running scared from his zombie administration

Thursday 7 December 2023 12:40 , Matt Mathers

Robert Jenrick’s resignation and salvos from Suella Braverman mean the prime minister faces a real threat of being brought down by his own side, says Paul Clements.

Read Paul’s full piece here:

Rishi Sunak is running scared from his zombie administration

Sunak: I’ll do ‘what is necessary’ to get flights airborne if court intervenes

Thursday 7 December 2023 12:30 , Matt Mathers

In his speech Rishi Sunak said he would do “what is necessary” to get flights airborne if Strasbourg intervened, Kate Devlin reports.

The prime minister did not go into details on what that might mean, however.

But government sources pointed to the Rwandan government’s insistence that anything incompatible with international law could collapse the scheme.

Sunak insists Tories not a ‘joke’ on Rwanda as PM forced to plead with Labour to back plan

Thursday 7 December 2023 12:12 , Matt Mathers

Rishi Sunak has denied his government has become a “joke” and a “laughing stock” over his failed Rwanda plan – but appeared to plead with Labour to back his under-threat legislative plan.

The PM’s premiership has been rocked by the resignation of immigration minister Robert Jenrick, as he failed to appease the Tory right with his emergency Rwanda bill.

Mr Sunak claimed there was only “an inch” between him and MPs on the right of the party – but hardliners remain furious that he chose not to opt out of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR).

Adam Forrest and Kate Devlin report.

Sunak denies Tory government is ‘joke’ and ‘laughing stock’

Thursday 7 December 2023 11:44 , Matt Mathers

Rishi Sunak has denied his government is a “joke” over his stop the boats pledge and insisted it was “doing what we’re saying we’re going to do” on Rwanda, Adam Forrest reports.

Asked if his government is a “joke” and a “laughing stock” on Rwanda and immigration, Mr Sunak replied: “Look at the results. You’ve been over in Calais, well the number of people crossing from France to the UK this year is down by a third, right? That’s the simple truth.”

He added: “I’m absolutely confident it’s the right approach, it’s the toughest ever approach... Going any further would mean that Rwanda will collapse the scheme and then we will have nowhere to send anyone to.”

 (PA)
(PA)

Sunak says former Supreme Court judge thinks bill will work

Thursday 7 December 2023 11:31 , Matt Mathers

Rishi Sunak said a former Supreme Court judge believes the government’s new immigration law will work, as the PM said: “We’ve got to end the legal merry go round”, Adam Forrest reports.

“Lord Sumption, the former Supreme Court judge, believes this Bill will work,” he said. “We will get flights off the ground, we will deter illegal migrants from coming in and we will finally stop the boats.”

Lord Sumption told the BBC earlier that if the government said Rwanda is safe through legislation, the courts “have got to treat it as safe, whether it is or not”.

Robert Jenrick ‘not right’ that bill will fail, says Sunak

Thursday 7 December 2023 11:22 , Matt Mathers

In his scathing resignation letter, Robert Jenrick made clear he wanted to bypass the ECHR – calling the bill “a triumph of hope over experience”, Adam Forrest reports.

Asked if his exiting immigration minister was right, Rishi Sunak said: “He’s simply not right actually … I’m am entirely confident that what we’re doing is the right approach.”

The Tory leader said it was the “toughest legislation that has ever been passed on this issue”.

Sunak won’t expel Tory MPs voting against Rwanda bill

Thursday 7 December 2023 11:20 , Matt Mathers

Rishi Sunak has said he will not expel right-wing Tory MPs voting against his Rwanda bill next week – rejecting speculation he will make it a confidence vote in the government, Adam Forrest reports.

Asked if he was telling his MPs “back me or sack”, Mr Sunak initially refused to say whether next week’s showdown vote on the bill would be a confidence vote in his government. “What I’m saying, not just to MPs but to the country, is, ‘I share their frustration’,” he said.

Asked again if it would be a confidence vote and whether would expel Tory MPs who vote against it, Mr Sunak said: “No … But what this vote is about is confidence in parliament to show it gets the British people’s frustration.”

Sunak insists bill will stop ‘merry-go-round’ of legal challenges

Thursday 7 December 2023 11:19 , Matt Mathers

Sunak insists that his Rwanda bill will stop the “merry-go-round” of legal challenges stopping flights taking off.

He claims the legislation adequately responds to concerns raised by the Supreme Court and that Rwanda is now “unequivocally” a safe country.

Illegal migration undermines British sense of ‘fairness’ - Sunak

Thursday 7 December 2023 11:13 , Matt Mathers

He goes on to say that illegal migration “undermines not just our border controls, it undermines the very sense of fairness that is so central to our sense of national character”.

PM adds that Britons play by the rules, put in their “fair share” and “wait our turn”.

“Now if some people can just cut all of that out, you’ve not just lost control of your borders, you’ve fatally undermined the very fairness upon which trust is built in our system.”

‘My family came here legally'

Thursday 7 December 2023 11:08 , Matt Mathers

PM tells reporters that, as the child of immigrants, he “understands” why people decide to make the treacherous journey across the Channel.

He says people come because the UK is a great place, offering “opportunity, hope and safety”.

“But the difference is my family came here legally”, he adds.

Sunak: Bill is toughest-ever anti-illegal migration plan

Thursday 7 December 2023 11:05 , Matt Mathers

Sunak starts by saying the government has published the toughest ever anti-illegal migration law.

He says he accepts the plan will upset some people and that people would “hear a lot of criticism about it”

“So it’s right” that “I explain why I have decided to do this”.

Watch: Sunak gives update on Rwanda plan

Thursday 7 December 2023 10:57 , Matt Mathers

Rishi Sunak is about to give a press conference on his Rwanda plan.

The prime minister was hit with a resignation last night after the government published legislation it claimed would get flights taking off.

But critics say the bill does not go far enough and the plan to deport asylum seekers will still be open to legal challenges.

We’ll bring you text updates from the press conference - you can also watch it live on The Independent’s YouTube channel:

Live: Prime minister Rishi Sunak holds surprise press conference amid Rwanda immigration row

Sunak creates new minister for ‘illegal migration’ after Jenrick exit

Thursday 7 December 2023 10:54 , Matt Mathers

Rishi Sunak has split ministerial responsibility for legal and illegal migration as he replaced Robert Jenrick.

Michael Tomlinson will be the illegal migration minister in the Home Office, and will also attend cabinet.

Tom Pursglove will be the minister for legal migration and delivery in the Home Office.

Robert Courts replaces Mr Tomlinson as solicitor general.

Tom Pursglove (screen grab)
Tom Pursglove (screen grab)

Rishi Sunak faces grilling at Covid inquiry next week

Thursday 7 December 2023 10:46 , Matt Mathers

Embattled Tory leader Rishi Sunak will be grilled about his actions during the Covid pandemic when he appears before the public inquiry on Monday.

The PM is fighting to save his premiership after resignation of immigration minister Robert Jenrick, as he failed to appease the Tory right with his Rwanda legislation.

Adam Forrest reports:

Rishi Sunak faces grilling at Covid inquiry next week

Rishi Sunak will not lead us into election - anonymous Tory MP

Thursday 7 December 2023 10:29 , Matt Mathers

Amid reports that Conservative MPs have been submitting no-confidence letters, one MP has reportedly said Rishi Sunak would not lead the party into the next election.

“Rishi Sunak will not lead us into a general election,” the anonymous Tory MP told Mail on Sunday commentator Dan Hodges.

Under Tory Party rules, some 15 per cent (53) of the party’s MPs would need to send in letters of no confidence in Mr Sunak to trigger a contest.

Could Sunak threaten to call general election?

Thursday 7 December 2023 10:18 , Matt Mathers

Rishi Sunak is reportedly ready to threaten to call an election if right-wing Tory MPs vote against his new Rwanda legislation, Adam Forrest reports.

The PM is considering making the vital showdown on the legislation next week – with a vote expected on Tuesday – a confidence issue, according to reports.

Convention dictates that the PM would either resign or dissolving parliament and call an election if he loses such a vote.

However, No 10 sources have denied that next week’s showdown vote will be treated as a confidence vote in the government.

Sunak to give press conference on Rwanda bill crisis

Thursday 7 December 2023 10:13 , Matt Mathers

Rishi Sunak will hold a press conference at 11am this morning as he faces a growing crisis over his emergency Rwanda legislation, Adam Forrest reports.

No 10 is said to be increasingly worried by the number of no-confidence letters being submitted by Tory MPs, and it remains uncertain that he can push through his bill amid a growing Tory revolt on the right.

We’ll bring you live updates from the press conference once it starts.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is under pressure from different wings of the party over Rwanda (Daniel Leal/PA) (PA Wire)
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is under pressure from different wings of the party over Rwanda (Daniel Leal/PA) (PA Wire)

Braverman: No one is talking about leadership challenege

Thursday 7 December 2023 09:47 , Matt Mathers

Some more comments now from Suella Braverman’s interview with Radio 4 earlier this morning.

The former home secretary, sacked in a cabinet reshuffle last month, insisted that none of her colleagues were talking about a leadership challenge to Rishi Sunak after she denied trying to oust him by spreading “poison” within the party.

“No one’s talking about leadership, or changing leadership,” she insisted, adding that she was fully behind Mr Sunak if he could fix the Rwanda deal.

 (PA)
(PA)

Tory moderate suggests he may not back bill – says Rwanda ‘ripping’ party apart

Thursday 7 December 2023 09:26 , Matt Mathers

Senior moderate Tobias Ellwood told Times Radio that he will not support the Rwanda bill if there is “any prospect” of breaking the international laws the UK itself helped craft, Adam Forrest reports.

Mr Ellwood said the row over Rwanda was “ripping our party in half”. He said: “Rwanda has become almost totemic, if you like, that hill that we have to die on.”

The senior Tory added: “If this infighting continues, it will not just cost us the next general election, it will see our party splinter into two between the centre right and the far right.”

Warning that some moderates may not back the bill, Mr Ellwood said: “We helped craft the ECHR. We were the ones that crafted most of the laws, international laws after the Second World War. We uphold international law. We don’t break it.”

Conservative MP and chair of the defence select committee Tobias Ellwood (Dominic Lipinski/ PA) (PA Archive)
Conservative MP and chair of the defence select committee Tobias Ellwood (Dominic Lipinski/ PA) (PA Archive)

Heaton-Harris: Rwanda bill will pass Commons

Thursday 7 December 2023 09:18 , Matt Mathers

Rishi Sunak’s draft law to fix the Rwanda plan will pass a vote in the Commons next week, a cabinet minister has insisted.

Chris Heaton-Harris, the Northern Ireland secretary and a former Tory whip, said the government has enough support to get the bill through the lower chamber.

It comes as the prime minister attempts to shore up his position and secure support for the plan after Robert Jenrick quit amid fears of a wider rebellion and Tory rightwingers.

The bill is due before parliament today and will be voted on next week and Tory moderates have warned they will not vote for it if there is any chance that it breaks international law.

More comments from Mr Heaton-Harris below:

Robert Jenrick’s resignation is ‘not that big a story’, Tory minister claims

Thursday 7 December 2023 09:00 , Matt Mathers

A Tory minister has sought to downplay Robert Jenrick’s resignation, claiming it is “not as big a story as is being made”, Archie Mitchell reports.

Chris Heaton-Harris told LBC: “I don’t like anybody resigning from my party, but when I was Boris Johnson’s chief whip... Pretty much everyone did.

“Maybe I have a scale of proportion that others don’t have.” He added: “I don’t think it is as big a story as is being made”.

Listen to more of his interview here:

Braverman denies ‘spreading poison’ to oust Sunak as she’s challenged over attack on Rwanda plan

Thursday 7 December 2023 08:57 , Matt Mathers

As we’ve been reporting, Suella Braverman has been speaking to Radio 4 this morning about the Rwanda draft law.

In a bruising interview with Nick Robinson, the former home secretary denied that she was trying to oust Rishi Sunak by “spreading poison” in the Tory Party.

Full story and audio of the exchange below:

‘I’m just being honest’: Suella Braverman denies ‘spreading poison’ to oust Sunak

Downing Street insists bill will prevent future legal challenges

Thursday 7 December 2023 08:50 , Matt Mathers

Emergency legislation to deem Rwanda a safe destination has been published, as the Government bids to revive the flagship asylum policy following last month’s Supreme Court defeat.

The Bill is set to be rushed through the Commons and comes after Home Secretary James Cleverly signed a new treaty in Kigali amid efforts to remedy the concerns of the UK’s highest court.

Dominic McGrath reports:

Emergency Rwanda legislation published after new treaty signed in Kigali

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