Rwanda Bill: Sunak hit by double resignation blow on eve of crucial vote

Lee Anderson and Brendan Clarke-Smith have quit as deputy chairman in order to back changes to the prime minister's flagship legislation.

Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (R) and Conservative Party Deputy Chairman, and MP for Ashfield, Lee Anderson, react as they talk with school children as they visit to Woodland View Primary School in Sutton-in-Ashfield, central England on January 4, 2024. (Photo by Jacob King / POOL / AFP) (Photo by JACOB KING/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Lee Anderson, who was appointed Tory deputy chairman by Rishi Sunak just under a year ago, has quit over the Rwanda Bill. (Getty)

Conservative deputy chairmen Lee Anderson and Brendan Clarke-Smith have both resigned in order to vote for amendments to the Government’s Rwanda Bill.

In a joint resignation letter, the pair said the PM had their “100% support” but that were resigning in order to back amendments to rich Sunak’s flagship bill.

“This is not because we are against the legislation,” they said. “But because like everybody else we want it to work. This task is not an easy one and we appreciate the fine balance that must be struck".

Prior to the pair's departure, a Tory rebel source said it would be “deeply unfortunate, sad and politically damaging” for Anderson to be sacked as party deputy chairman as “one of its most prominent and visible representatives of the red wall. Especially over an issue as important as migration,” they said.

If 29 Tories vote against the bill on Wednesday (or if 57 abstain) then Sunak is likely to lose. It has been reported up to 70 Tory MPs are considering abstaining or opposing the legislation

Sunak is in trouble because any attempt to placate those on the right would be opposed by more moderate Tories who want to protect the legislation against breaches of international law.

In an apparent attempt to woo wavering hardliners, he said there were circumstances under which he would be prepared to ignore injunctions from the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) blocking flights from taking off to Rwanda. But those comments might not be enough.

If Sunak were to lose, it's not clear what will happen. His harshest critics hope defeat could spark a leadership election. That may seem unlikely, but it would still be hugely embarrassing for the PM in an election year about an issue he has made a key priority with his promise to 'Stop the boats'.

Yahoo News has paused its live coverage of the Rwanda Bill. For all the latest news click here.

  • Rees-Mogg says there is 'strong support' for toughening up the Rwanda Bill

    Tory rebel Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg said there is “strong support” in the party for toughening up the Rwanda Bill.

    Speaking about the rebellion on amendments to the Rwanda Bill, Sir Jacob told the PA news agency: “I think it shows that there is very strong support within the Conservative Party for toughening up the Bill.

    “I think the government has responded to that. I would hope that it would go further. There is an opportunity for it to do so tomorrow.”

    The Conservative former cabinet minister said he has not yet made up his mind on how he would vote on the Bill’s third reading, saying: “I think amendments and the Bill itself are different questions because there are good bits of the Bill and it’s a Bill that could be improved with amendments.

    “That doesn’t mean that the rest of the Bill is fundamentally bad.

    “People haven’t decided how they are voting on third reading, but the amendments aren’t necessarily indicative, they are indicative of what people would like to do and there is a decision to be made tomorrow when we see what more the government does, what other amendments are voted on, as to whether or not the Bill is good enough for people to give it majority support.”

  • Commons rejects Labour amendment

    The Commons rejected a Labour frontbench amendment to the Bill 336 to 262, majority 74, which would have added to the Bill the ability to suspend Rwanda’s safe status if it failed to live up to obligations in its treaty with the UK.

  • Jenrick insists he is not at war with Sunak

    The former immigration minister said he and the prime minister were friends and colleagues.

  • 'The numbers speak for themselves,' says Tory rebel

    Tory rebel Mark Francois said “the numbers speak for themselves” when asked if he would vote against the Bill on Wednesday.

    “I hope very much that the government will listen and as a result of this… that the government will listen and take stock and that perhaps there will be some possibility of tightening the Bill… tomorrow,” he told Sky News.

    “The numbers speak for themselves.”

  • MPs vote in favour of Clause 4 of Bill

    MPs have voted 330 to 55, majority 275, in favour of Clause 4 of the Bill, which deals with decisions about individual asylum seekers’ circumstances.

  • Sunak accepts resignations

    Rishi Sunak has accepted the resignations of Lee Anderson and Brendan Clarke-Smith after the deputy chairmen stepped down to back amendments to his flaship Rwanda Bill.

    A Downing Street source said: The PM accepts their resignation and thanks both Lee and Brendan for their dedication and hard work for the Conservative Party.

    “This is the toughest legislation ever brought before Parliament to tackle illegal migration.

    “This Bill will make it clear that if you come here illegally you will not be able to stay. We must pass this Bill to deliver what all Conservatives want – a credible plan to stop the boats.”

  • Jenrick amendment voted down

    MPs voted 525 to 58, majority 467, against Conservative former minister Robert Jenrick’s amendment, which was aimed at severely limiting individual asylum seekers’ ability to appeal against being put on a flight to Rwanda.

  • 58 Conservative MPs backed Cash amendment

    The division list showed 58 Conservative MPs supported the amendment from Sir Bill Cash. The amendment vote was 529 to 68, majority 461, to reject Cash’s amendment.

    They were: Adam Afriyie (Windsor), Lee Anderson (Ashfield), Sarah Atherton (Wrexham), Jake Berry (Rossendale and Darwen), Bob Blackman (Harrow East), Ben Bradley (Mansfield), Suella Braverman (Fareham), Jack Brereton (Stoke-on-Trent South), Paul Bristow (Peterborough), William Cash (Stone), Rehman Chishti (Gillingham and Rainham), Christopher Chope (Christchurch), Simon Clarke (Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland), Brendan Clarke-Smith (Bassetlaw), Philip Davies (Shipley), Sarah Dines (Derbyshire Dales), Richard Drax (South Dorset), James Duddridge (Rochford and Southend East) (Proxy vote cast by Marcus Jones), Iain Duncan Smith (Chingford and Woodford Green), Michael Fabricant (Lichfield), Nick Fletcher (Don Valley), Kevin Foster (Torbay), Mark Francois (Rayleigh and Wickford), Chris Green (Bolton West), James Grundy (Leigh), Jonathan Gullis (Stoke-on-Trent North), John Hayes (South Holland and The Deepings), Darren Henry (Broxtowe), Philip Hollobone (Kettering), Adam Holloway (Gravesham), Eddie Hughes (Walsall North), Tom Hunt (Ipswich), Robert Jenrick (Newark), Caroline Johnson (Sleaford and North Hykeham), David Jones (Clwyd West), Danny Kruger (Devizes), Andrew Lewer (Northampton South), Marco Longhi (Dudley North), Jonathan Lord (Woking), Craig Mackinlay (South Thanet) (Proxy vote cast by John Redwood), Karl McCartney (Lincoln), Robin Millar (Aberconwy), Anne Marie Morris (Newton Abbot), Jill Mortimer (Hartlepool), Wendy Morton (Aldridge-Brownhills), Lia Nici (Great Grimsby), Neil O’Brien (Harborough), Matthew Offord (Hendon), Tom Randall (Gedling), John Redwood (Wokingham), Laurence Robertson (Tewkesbury), Gary Sambrook (Birmingham, Northfield), Greg Smith (Buckingham), Henry Smith (Crawley), Jane Stevenson (Wolverhampton North East), Desmond Swayne (New Forest West), Elizabeth Truss (South West Norfolk), Bill Wiggin (North Herefordshire).

    Tellers for the ayes were Tory MPs Jacob Rees-Mogg and Miriam Cates.

    Eight DUP MPs and Independent MPs Scott Benton and Andrew Bridgen also supported the amendment.

  • MPs vote in favour of treating Rwanda as safe country

    MPs voted 331 to 262, majority 69, in favour of clause two of the Bill, which states that Rwanda is treated as a safe country.

  • Sunak 'embarrassed by his own MPs'

    The Prime Minister has “again been embarrassed by his own MPs” after Tory deputy chairmen Lee Anderson and Brendan Clarke-Smith resigned in order to vote for amendments to the Government’s Rwanda Bill, the Liberal Democrats said.

    Lib Dem home affairs spokesperson Alistair Carmichael said: “Sunak’s Rwanda scheme just won’t work – and even the deputy chairmen of his own party know it.

    “Rishi Sunak has yet again been embarrassed by his own MPs.

    “If the Prime Minister can’t even settle squabbles in his own party, how can he be expected to run the country?”

  • Lee Anderson and Brendan Clarke-Smith quit over Rwanda bill

    Conservative deputy chairmen Lee Anderson and Brendan Clarke-Smith have both resigned in order to vote for amendments to the Government’s Rwanda Bill.

    In their resignation letter, Conservative deputy chairmen Lee Anderson and Brendan Clarke-Smith said they have consistently argued for the Government’s Rwanda legislation to be watertight, adding: “It is therefore important in terms of credibility that we are consistent with this.”

    They told Rishi Sunak that their deputy chairmen roles meant there was an issue of being bound by collective responsibility.

    “It is with this in mind that we fully appreciate that whilst our main wish is to strengthen the legislation, this means that in order to vote for amendments we will therefore need to offer you our resignations from our roles.”

    The MPs said they did not want to distract the Prime Minister from his “work on illegal migration”.

  • Clarke asks 'Are we as a country capable of policing our borders?'

    Tory former cabinet minister Sir Simon Clarke earlier said the test facing MPs is whether the Rwanda legislation will work, telling the Commons: “There is a crisis of faith in our politics and that really boils down to – as it has done for a number of years, spanning the Brexit debate and indeed the causes of it – do we as Members of Parliament mean what we say?

    “Is our word worth anything? Are we capable as a country of asserting our national sovereignty? Are we as a country capable of policing our borders?

    “Now I welcome the fact that the government has decided that we now need to derogate from parts of the Human Rights Act 1998 and that is welcome, it is brave, it is commendable. But we now need to follow that logic to its conclusion.”

    Clarke said there is a need to “close the loopholes” in the Bill as he backed the amendments from Sir Bill Cash and Robert Jenrick.

    On government plans to draft in around 150 judges and free up courtrooms in order to deal with migrant appeals, Sir Simon said: “Apart from being one of the most effective devices that I can see to worsen our existing court backlog, this is simply confirmation of the scale of problems that the Government itself anticipates as a result of what will happen under the current legislation.”

    Clarke added it is “not a tenable strategy”.

  • Liz Truss, Suella Braverman attend meeting

    London, UK. 11th Mar, 2020. Liz Truss arrives for a cabinet meeting at 10 downing street in London. (Photo by Fred Duval/SOPA Images/Sipa USA) Credit: Sipa US/Alamy Live News
    Liz Truss (pictured in 2020) was among the Tories who attended the meeting. (Alamy Live News)

    Dozens of Tory MPs including former prime minister Liz Truss, Suella Braverman and Iain Duncan Smith have gathered for a meeting in Parliament.

    New Conservatives co-chairman Danny Kruger, and former ministers Jacob Rees-Mogg and Simon Clarke were among those present.

  • Government has “not succeeded” to address immigration issues, says Clarke

    Tory former cabinet minister Sir Simon Clarke told MPs “this is our last chance to act in this Parliament” and acknowledged the government has “not succeeded” to address issues related to immigration despite trying on “multiple occasions” to do so.

    He said: “It comes really down to the fundamental question of in whose interests do we sit here and do we legislate today? It’s clearly, of course, the public interest.

    “And I warned during the debates on Brexit – which I had hoped were relegated now to the annals of history – that this House was playing with fire if mainstream democratic politicians do not or cannot resolve the problems which face this country, our political process will I’m afraid move inextricably to the extremes.

    “We’ve heard a lot of rhetoric, and it is rhetoric, from the Opposition benches about how extreme the position that we are advocating is. Trust me, it will be as nothing compared to who will sit on these benches if we fail in our task because we are at the limits of the tenable when it comes to the feelings of the British public.

    “And if the Labour Party win the general election that will be held later this year – which I freely admit the polling at the moment suggests that they will, in large part because of the frustration, frankly, that the British public feel about this issue – they will have to confront these same problems and if they are not willing to act any more than we have been willing to act then they themselves will be eaten by this issue just the same.

    “It is a certainty that this is a beast that we have to slay if it’s not to destroy all of the mainstream centre ground of British politics and leave it in the hands of people who will advocate genuinely radical and unacceptable solutions.”

  • Tory minister claims asylum seekers will make up 'spurious claims' to stay in UK

    Asylum seekers will create “spurious claims” to remain in the UK which will then clog up the judicial process and no-one will go to Rwanda, a Conservative former minister said.

    Speaking in the Commons, Sir Edward Leigh said if the Bill is passed as it is “people will make spurious claims based on their political opinions which will make it impossible for them to be put on a flight to Rwanda”.

    He added: “You can so easily concoct a spurious reason why, whilst Rwanda generally may be a safe country, for you personally… you cannot be sent there and this will clog up our whole judicial process.”

    Sir Edward continued: “You can concoct so easily a history of mental illness, it’s so subjective, it’s easy enough to find a doctor to sign a medical certificate saying that you have a history of mental illness, it’s easy to concoct a personal history. For instance if you come from Iran, that you allege that you are gay for instance, again no tribunal will export you to Iran if you say that you are gay. If you come from Iraq you can say that you are an activist Christian, whether you are or not.

    “I cannot see how anybody who has a right to go through the judicial process – given the ease that you create a history, personal history, which will make your own personal circumstances impossible in Rwanda – I can’t believe that any court or any tribunal will export somebody to Rwanda.”

    The MP for Gainsborough added: “They may not concoct it, it may be entirely true, we don’t know. But what we do know is that every single person who arrives in Dover will say, and we all know this is true, every single asylum seeker will say that they cannot be sent off to Rwanda because of their own personal history – and every single one of us would do the same thing.”

  • Sunak still aiming for Rwanda flights in spring

    Rishi Sunak still aims to have flights running to Rwanda by the spring, Downing Street has said, despite plans to draft in more judges to speed up migrant appeals which are not set to be completed until summer.

    Asked whether it was still the plan to revive the stalled scheme by spring, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “It is.”

    Number 10 reiterated that it will “listen if people want to put forward a legal position as relates to their amendments” but that it was working within “specific parameters and one of those is not collapsing the Bill”.

  • Tories on edge of precipice as Sunak seeks way back from edge

    Labour's Stephen Kinnock, speaks in the House of Commons during the debate of the Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill prior to Tuesday evening's second reading vote. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, is struggling to reconcile Tory MPs' competing demands over his Rwanda plan. Would-be rebels have warned that major surgery is still required to fix the flagship asylum legislation. Picture date: Picture date: Tuesday December 12, 2023.
    Labour's Stephen Kinnock, speaks in the House of Commons during the debate of the Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill prior to Tuesday evening's second reading vote. (Alamy)

    Rishi Sunak was the most junior of ministers when Theresa May faced her worst Brexit ructions, but as he battles Commons votes, endless amendments and mutinous Tory factions, the prime minister might have some retrospective sympathy for his predecessor-but-two.

    The parallels do not end there. With Brexit largely viewed as completed, Sunak’s Rwanda deportation bill has become emblematic for what many Conservative MPs see as the party’s main ideological battleground: migration, and most specifically, small boats.

    Read the full story from The Guardian.

  • Former justice secretary says ministers face 'quite a task' to recruit more judges

    Ministers will face “quite a task” in recruiting more judges to deal with a swathe of new legal claims in the wake of the Rwanda plan going ahead, a Tory former justice secretary has said.

    Intervening during a speech by Sir Robert Buckland, Tory former minister Robert Jenrick asked his opinion on reports that Rishi Sunak plans to recruit more tribunal judges to deal with the “claims that will surely come from each and every illegal migrant that comes across the Channel”.

    Former justice secretary Sir Robert replied: “Well, I’ll give him perhaps if not a professional opinion, an opinion born about experience in that anything is possible, but it is quite a task.”

    Sir Robert also spoke in favour of his amendments to the Bill, which would ensure that the Government could only declare Rwanda a safe country once ministers were satisfied the African nation had met all obligations in its agreement with the UK.

    He said his amendments were focussed on “the need to make sure that Rwanda does indeed carry out its policies”.

    Sir Robert added: “All these details are important because they go to answer the question that I think will be in the affirmative that individuals in this scheme will not be at risk of refoulement and therefore there will not be a breach of the 1951 convention. That reality has to match the dealing provision.”

  • Jenrick's amendments risk 'undermining our international standing', says Dame Johnson

    Labour chairwoman of the Home Affairs Committee Dame Diana Johnson warned Conservative former minister Robert Jenrick’s amendments are “not compatible with the UK’s obligations under international law” and risk “undermining our international standing”.

    She said Jenrick’s amendments 12-22 “have profound implications for all of us”, adding “legitimate claims based on a real risk of persecution and human rights violations would not be heard”.

    She said: “Those people whose claims are unheard would be removed to face that persecution and human rights violations in Rwanda, on which their claims are based.”

    Addressing Jenrick’s amendment 22, she said it would prevent courts from reviewing asylum claims of individuals as well as claims for unlawful detention, assault in the course of removal or discriminatory treatment in the course of the removal process.

    She added: “Denying these claims would not only be inconsistent with human rights law but also with fundamental principles of liberty and freedom under our common law, which has been protected for centuries.”

  • We will be 'proudly' voting against amendments, says Labour shadow minister

    For Labour, shadow Home Office minister Stephen Kinnock told the Commons: “We on these benches will be proudly voting against the amendments that are being promoted by the benches opposite because the government’s Rwanda policy is unaffordable, unworkable and unlawful, because this Bill is an affront to the values that we hold dear and because we will always stand up for the separation of powers, for the rule of law and for ensuring we can stand tall in the world.”

    Challenged by Tory former immigration minister Robert Jenrick on whether Labour believes Rwanda is a safe country, Kinnock replied: “When the Supreme Court of our land rules that it is not safe to send asylum seekers to Rwanda, we on these benches agree absolutely with that position.”

    He added: “The legislation before us is a sham, but in the interests of damage limitation I urge members to get behind Labour’s amendments today.”

    Labour’s amendments include ensuring that decision-makers can still consider the risk of refoulement, where asylum seekers are removed and returned to a country where they face persecution.

    Jenrick earlier also challenged Kinnock about Labour’s position on the use of offshore processing, adding: “Why would they want to do something which is known to be more expensive and less effective because you have to bring everyone back to the United Kingdom one way or another, and so you create no deterrent whatsoever, but one wouldn’t want to move forward with a scheme like Rwanda?”

    Kinnock pointed to the Ukraine and Hong Kong schemes as examples where applications were processed offshore, adding: “There are plenty of ways of doing upstream processing, offshore processing and, to coin a phrase, what matters is what works.”

  • We have to get people out of the country within days, not months, says Jenrick

    The plan behind the Bill would see people deported in months when they need to be deported “within days”, Conservative former minister Robert Jenrick said.

    He told the Commons: “We only have 2,000 detained spaces in our immigration removal centres in this country.

    “On a single day in August, 1,200 people arrived illegally on our shores. So in a weekend all the detained capacity in the whole United Kingdom would be consumed.”

    He added: “We have to get people out of the country within days, not months.

    “And the operational plan behind this Bill foresees that people will take months to be removed from the country.

    “So what will happen is that our detained capacity will be filled, people will then be bailed to hotels, they will then abscond and never be seen again. And within a single week in August this scheme will have failed.”

  • If you want deportation flights full of illegal migrants, support my amendments, Jenrick says

    The “revealed preference” of the judiciary is to “make this scheme difficult to operationalise”, Conservative former minister Robert Jenrick told the Commons.

    Speaking about the Illegal Migration Act, he said: “Even if you believe that the serious and irreversible harm test within it is a very strict one… that won’t apply to the flights that will go off in the months ahead, it may not apply to any flights that go off before the next general election.

    “So if you want those flights to be full of illegal migrants and for there to be deterrent effect I think you need to support the amendments that I have set out which create that strict approach.”

    He said for those individuals who are subject to the Illegal Migration Act: “The Government’s contention is that the serious and irreversible harm test is a very high one. I don’t think that’s right. I think the Supreme Court’s judgment lowers the bar.

    “The revealed preference of the judiciary is to be generous towards illegal migrants, it is to make this scheme difficult to operationalise.

    “And as this is the last… legislative opportunity to tackle this issue, I suggest we get it right, and we narrow the opportunities for the judiciary to intervene, or else we are going to find that these flights are symbolic flights with very few individuals on them at all.”

  • Jenrick says his amendment makes Rwanda scheme 'legally' workable for first time

    Former immigration minister Robert Jenrick said his amendment makes the Rwanda scheme “legally and operationally workable for the first time”.

    Speaking in the Commons, Jenrick said: “It’s not correct to say that we wouldn’t enable people to challenge individual circumstances, but they wouldn’t be able to be suspensive. So individuals would arrive in the UK and within days, which is critical to the success of the scheme, they would be removed to Rwanda, where they could bring forward claims as they may wish, but they wouldn’t block the flights, and that is critical. Without which, the scheme would simply not succeed.”

    The MP for Newark added: “There are very narrow grounds in which individuals would not be put on a flight, ones the Home Office are very used to dealing with through fitness to travel requirements, and that is a concept that’s well known and understood and I’m certain would work.

    “So what does the amendment do that’s different? It narrows down the reasons by which individuals could make claims and makes the scheme legally and operationally workable for the first time.”

  • Jenrick says it is time to 'fix the problem' of illegal immigration

    Robert Jenrick, MP, Minister for Immigration. British politician Conservative Party, Downing Street, UK
    Robert Jenrick said the bill as it stands does not work. (PA)

    The former immigration minister Robert Jenrick has said the Rwanda Bill without amendments "doesn’t work".

    “The operational plan behind this Bill foresees that people will take months to be removed from the country," he said, stressing that people who arrive to the Uk illegally should be deported within days.

  • Alison Thewliss opens debate by hitting out at Rwanda Bill

    The SNP's Alison Thewliss opened the committee stage of the debate on the Rwanda Bill by describing the plan as "awful" and accusing the government of failing to “engage with reality”

  • Debate begins in the Commons

    The debate on amendments to the Rwanda Bill has begun in the House of Commons. There is expected to be around six hours of debate today and Wednesday.

  • 4 Things Brits actually want that are not deporting asylum seekers to Rwanda

    The Rwanda deportation plan may be Rishi Sunak’s flagship policy, but plenty of people wish the government’s focus was on, well, anything else.

    More than a year after the idea was first floated, the plan to fly asylum seekers who arrive here via “illegal” means to the East African country is yet to actually deport a single person.

    It has faced several major obstacles, such as the UK Supreme Court declaring it unlawful and growing worries it breaches the European Convention on Human Rights and the UK Human Rights Act.

    Read the full story from HuffPost.

  • Government taking 'every conceivable step to ensure' Rwanda deportation flights take off

    Rishi Sunak’s official spokesman said the decision to increase the number of judges hearing immigration appeals showed the government was “taking every conceivable step to ensure” Rwanda deportation flights could take off.

    The No 10 official said that while the Rwanda Bill would ensure the bar for legal challenges is “set extremely high”, it is “also right to ensure that we have the resources to deal with the minority of claims should they arise”.

    Put to him that some rebels argued the move was an acknowledgement that the Bill would not put a stop to legal challenges, the Prime Minister’s spokesman replied: “No, I think it demonstrates that we are taking every conceivable step to ensure that we can get flights off the ground as quickly as possible.

    “The spurious challenges we have seen before will be blocked through the Bill, the systemic challenges will be blocked.

    “We have heard from leading judges, leading lawyers, who say the Bill will do the job that it needs to do, whether that is blocking challenges on modern slavery, on asylum — those sorts of spurious challenges will not be allowed.

    “But it is right, in the small minority of cases, that we have resources put in place if needed.”

  • Alex Chalk says more judges will speed up migrant appeals

    London, England, UK. 9th Jan, 2024. Secretary of State for Justice ALEX CHALK is seen outside 10 Downing Street as cabinet meet. (Credit Image: © Tayfun Salci/ZUMA Press Wire) EDITORIAL USAGE ONLY! Not for Commercial USAGE! Credit: ZUMA Press, Inc./Alamy Live News
    Alex Chalk has asked for more judges to speed up courts dealing with migrant appeals. (Zuma Press Wire)

    Justice secretary Alex Chalk said he has asked more judges to be appointed to the First-tier and Upper Tribunal to speed up courts dealing with migrant appeals.

    He told the Commons that recruitment would “conclude in the next few months and new judges will be appointed, trained and start sitting from this summer”.

    In the meantime, the judiciary had identified judges which could provide 5,000 additional sitting days while extra space had been prepared, making a total of 25 courtrooms available for hearings.

    In a written ministerial statement to Parliament, he said: “We are confident that, with the additional courtroom and judicial capacity detailed above, in line with projected levels agreed with the Home Office, the vast majority of Illegal Migration Act appeal work will be dealt with by the courts in an expedited manner.”

  • Discussions 'ongoing' over amendments, says No 10

    No 10 did not rule out the prospect of putting forward government-backed amendments to appease rebels over the Safety of Rwanda Bill, with discussions with MPs “still ongoing”.

    The prime minister’s official spokesman was asked by reporters whether the government could rule out the possibility of agreeing with some of the amendments put forward ahead of Tuesday’s Committee Stage.

    The Downing Street official replied: “As ever, I appreciate we are closer to a vote now. But discussions are still ongoing, so I’m not going to pre-empt that.

    “Clearly, as we have said before, we are working within specific parameters where we need to retain the strong deterrent effect, and equally we must do nothing that collapses the Bill.

    “That means it must have a respectable legal argument. That is why we published the summary of our (legal) advice.”

    He added: “Certainly, we think it is right to continue speaking and listening to parliamentarians to hear their views and constructive suggestions, as long as they work within the parameters I’ve described. I believe conversations are still ongoing.”

  • Downing Street disagrees with UNHCR assessment on Rwanda Bill

    Downing Street said it disagreed with the assessment by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) that the Rwanda Bill and the recently-signed treaty with Kigali would still violate global refugee law.

    Asked whether the government disagreed with the UNHCR’s assessment, the prime minister’s official spokesman said: “Yes.

    “I haven’t seen specifically what they have said, but we have set out the summary of our legal advice and obviously we are legislating to enable us to do this.

    “The UNHCR also have a partnership with Rwanda ensuring they can safely take in migrants, I think from Libya, including a number quite recently.”

    The spokesman said he had not spoken to Rishi Sunak about the assessment before adding: “I think the Prime minister will not be deterred from a course of action that is backed by the British public.

    “It is important that we have control of our borders, it is right that the British people, not criminal gangs, decide who comes to this country. We are acting in a way that we believe is both legal and responsible.”

  • Paul Nowak says Conservatives ignoring big issues in favour of Rwanda Bill

    General secretary of the Trades Union Congress Paul Nowak said the Conservative Party should be focusing on issues that matter to voters rather than the Rwanda Bill.

  • Proceedings suspended amid technical fault

    Dame Eleanor Laing told MPs that a technical fault meant that “our proceedings cannot be broadcast”.

    The deputy commons Speaker said: “Apparently it is inappropriate for us to proceed without our proceedings being broadcast. So, with great reluctance, I am required to suspend the House in the hope that this fault will very soon be rectified.“

    I am only going to suspend the House for 10 minutes in the hope that the work can be done to enable us to be broadcast to those who are listening and paying attention.

    “The House is therefore suspended for 10 minutes.”

    Following the suspension, proceedings have now resumed.

  • What could happen with Rwanda Bill this week?

    Is the government panicking about the debate or is there confidence ahead of the vote?

  • Voters turn on ‘spineless’ Sunak as dire poll results and Rwanda row spark fresh leadership crisis

    Rishi Sunak is facing a landslide general election defeat because he is seen as “spineless and false” and makes people “cringe”, according to a top pollster.

    The verdict came as a major new survey indicated that Labour is heading for a repeat of Tony Blair’s crushing victory over the Tories in 1997.

    Conservative alarm at the results – allied to a fresh split over the controversial Rwanda bill – prompted speculation that the Tories could face their third leadership contest in less than 18 months.

    Read more from The Independent.

  • Gove 'pretty sure' Anderson will still be Conservative deputy chairman at next election

    Levelling up secretary Michael Gove said he was “pretty sure” Lee Anderson would still be a Conservative deputy chairman at the next general election.

    Asked what would happen if the Tory MP backed right-wing amendments to the Rwanda Bill, Gove told Times Radio: “Well, I think we might be getting ahead of ourselves because I think that, and Lee is a friend and I’m a big admirer of his, the concerns that Lee has about the Bill are the concerns that the country has about migration more broadly.

    “And I think the Bill does address them. I think the Bill does make sure – it’s one of the toughest pieces of migration legislation to come before the House of Commons if not the toughest – and it makes sure that ministers can quickly and clearly send people to Rwanda because it deals with all of the concerns that the Supreme Court had.”

  • Sunak set for Commons showdown with Tory right on Rwanda Bill

    Prime Minister Rishi Sunak updates MPs over the Red Sea shipping attacks in the House of Commons in London. The Prime Minister told MPs all planned targets had been destroyed in the strikes with no reports of civilian casualties, and also explained why he had not informed Parliament before the military action took place. Picture date: Monday January 15, 2024.
    Prime minister Rishi Sunak is set for a showdown over the Rwanda Bill. (PA)

    Rishi Sunak is braced for a Commons showdown over his flagship Rwanda plan, as allies sought to play down the damaging prospect of two Tory deputy chairmen joining a backbench rebellion.

    The Prime Minister is under pressure from both sides of his party over the legislation aimed at reviving the stalled plan to deport some asylum seekers to the east African nation.

    He is battling to quell Tory dissent as the Safety of Rwanda Bill returns to the House of Commons on Tuesday for six hours of debate and voting.

    Read the full story from PA.

  • Johnson calls for government to accept amendments

    Former prime minister Boris Johnson has called for the government to accept amendments to the Rwanda Bill.

  • Cates 'prepared' to vote against Bill

    Miriam Cates, Conservative MP for Penistone and Stocksbridge, said she would be prepared to vote against the Rwanda Bill if it is not amended, adding the Bill in its current form will not stop the boats.

    She told the Today programme: “I would be prepared but what I really want to see is the government accept these amendments.”

    Asked how many other people would be prepared to vote against it, she said: “I can only speak for myself. We’ve got 66 colleagues now with their names on these combined amendments. We’re very much looking at those amendments, making the arguments for them today, see if we can persuade the government to accept them.”

    On the prime minister’s plan to draft in 150 judges in order to speed up migrant appeals, she said: “Well, I’m afraid all that shows is that the government is expecting a large number of individual claims. And again, under the Bill at the moment, all that is required is evidence that somebody will suffer harm or disadvantage when they get to Rwanda. Now of course we’re not underestimating the journey that some of these people have made, but if it’s possible to just get a doctor’s certificate to say that they can’t be sent to Rwanda, then clearly that is going to be tied up in court for a long time, even if their appeal is not eventually granted.

    “And I think all that this drafting in of more judges shows is that government is expecting a large number of legal claims and don’t forget that they can then go to appeal and again then the idea of the deterrent doesn’t work because people know that they can stay in this country for a large period of time – their claims may be heard, they may be kept in this country for a long period of time.

    “So the point of a deterrent is that everybody who arrives here is swiftly detained and deported. And don’t forget we’re not saying that people should not be able to make legal claims. What we’re saying is that those claims need to be made in Rwanda, people will still have, under our amendments, those full rights of appeal in Rwanda. But the point is they need to be deported to Rwanda in order to have this deterrent.”

  • Ashworth question over Stamer's pledge to scrap Rwanda plan

    MP Jonathan Ashworth was asked about Sir Keir Starmer's pledge to scrap the Rwanda plan if Labour win the next election.

  • Sunak Adviser Urges Tories to Stop Plotting Before Rwanda Vote

    Rishi Sunak’s top political strategist warned Conservative MPs that divisions would mean certain defeat in this year’s UK general election, as party rebels threatened to derail the prime minister’s flagship migration bill unless he makes it tougher.

    Read the full story from Bloomberg.

  • Stride plays down rebellion fears

    Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride appeared to play down concerns about a major rebellion over the Rwanda Bill.

    It comes after senior Conservatives Lee Anderson and Brendan Clarke-Smith said they would back right-wing amendments designed to toughen up the legislation.

    The cabinet minister told LBC: “Let’s see. Bills go through various processes. There are often amendments.

    “We all know that there are very few bills – very, very few bills – that go through straight and clean and nobody tries to amend them in any way at all.

    “What matters is that the Bill progresses in a form that leaves it effective at the end and I’m confident we’re going to do that.”

  • Amendments will cause issues, says centrist Tories

    Any bowing by the Government to right-wingers’ demands to strengthen the Rwanda Bill will “cause problems” for centrist Tories, they have warned.

    Ahead of a meeting of the One Nation group of Conservative MPs in Parliament, former justice secretary Sir Robert Buckland told the PA news agency: “I think in a nutshell, the Government would be best advised not to accept any of the amendments from my colleagues on the right, because the Bill then will cause a problem for us here.

    “So we’re hoping that common sense will prevail.”

    One Nation chairman Damian Green said: “We’ve made our position clear that we, for all our reservations, we voted for the Bill at second reading. And we want the Government to carry it through unamended.”

  • Rishi Sunak facing growing pressure from Tory right to toughen Rwanda Bill

    Rishi Sunak has said he is talking to Tory MPs as he faces growing pressure from right-wingers to toughen up the Rwanda Bill, as deputy chairman Lee Anderson confirmed he will join a possible rebellion.

    Anderson on Monday evening signalled he would defy the government as Tory divisions are set to be dragged back into the open in crunch votes this week.

    Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch, who is popular among the Tory grassroots, is also understood to have called for asylum seekers to be prevented from lodging individual legal appeals against their removals to Kigali.

    Read the full story from PA.

  • Sunak says he is 'talking to all my colleagues' about Bill

    Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said he is “talking to all my colleagues” when asked about the prospect of deputy Conservative Party chairman Lee Anderson and other senior figures rebelling to vote for amendments to the Safety of Rwanda Bill.

    Asked by broadcasters during a visit to Essex whether Tory rebels would be disciplined if they vote for amendments designed to toughen the migration legislation this week, Sunak said on Monday: “I’m talking to all my colleagues.

    “I know everyone is frustrated — I’m frustrated about the situation — and they want to see an end to the legal merry-go-round.

    “I’m confident that the Bill we have got is the toughest that anyone has ever seen and it will resolve this issue once and for all.”

    The Tory leader said he was “determined to get this new legislation onto the statute book so we can get our Rwanda scheme up and running”.

    He said “good progress” had been made on his pledge to stop the boats before adding: “In order to finish the job, we do need a deterrent like Rwanda and that is why I’m trying to do everything I can to get this Bill – which by the way is the toughest piece of migration legislation that Parliament has ever seen – on to the statute books.”

  • Sunak suffers blow as two Tory deputy chairmen vow to rebel over Rwanda Bill

    London, England, UK. 12th Dec, 2023. Conservative Party Deputy Chairman LEE ANDERSON is seen leaving 10 Downing Street after breakfast with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. (Credit Image: © Tayfun Salci/ZUMA Press Wire) EDITORIAL USAGE ONLY! Not for Commercial USAGE!
    Conservative Party Deputy Chairman Lee Anderson said he would back right-wing amendments to the Bill. (Tayfun Salci/ZUMA Press Wire)

    Rishi Sunak has suffered a major blow ahead of a Commons showdown over his flagship Rwanda Bill as two Conservative deputy chairmen said they would join a rebellion.

    Lee Anderson and Brendan Clarke-Smith on Monday evening vowed to back right-wing amendments to toughen up the legislation aimed at reviving the stalled plan to deport some asylum seekers to the east African nation.

    It signals trouble ahead for the Prime Minister as his party is deeply divided over a Bill that faces crunch votes this week.

    Read the full story from PA.

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