Rishi Sunak has warned Tory rebels that their proposals for toughening up his new Rwanda deportation legislation will not work as he faces a battle to pass it in the House of Commons.
At a Downing Street press conference on Tuesday morning, the Prime Minister insisted the make-up of his emergency legislation was the “only” approach that could succeed.
The new Bill, designed to get deportation flights started, was published on Monday. It declares Rwanda a “safe” country and disapplies the Human Rights Act in this area.
But some Tory rebels want to go a step further, blocking any individual asylum seeker from legally challenging deportation to Rwanda, something the proposed legislation still allows.
Mr Sunak insisted that under new law, if it is passed, it would be “vanishingly rare” that asylum seekers would succeed in blocking deportations.
He argued that the legislation would effectively block any route for the scheme as a whole to be challenged in the UK courts. The Supreme Court declared it unlawful last month.
The Prime Minister criticised members of the Tory Right who were pushing for the Bill to be toughened up even more, noting that the Rwandan government had issued a statement indicating that it would have pulled out of the scheme if the UK Government had done anything “unlawful”.
Mr Sunak said: “So for the people who say you should do something different, the difference between them and me is an inch, given everything that we have closed. We’re talking about an inch.
“But that inch, by the way, is the difference between the Rwandans participating in this scheme and not. And as I said in my remarks, there’s no point having a piece of legislation which means you can’t actually send anyone anywhere. It’s not going to help anyone, right?
“So when we’re talking about an inch of difference and that inch making the difference between having an operational scheme where you can send someone or not, it’s pretty clear that what we’re doing is not only the right approach, it’s the only approach.
“I’m determined to actually fix this problem and the people who want to do something else clearly don’t. Because I’m confident this will work. There’s no point having a piece of legislation with nowhere to send anyone to at the end of it.”
On Monday, Robert Jenrick, the immigration minister, quit over the direction of migration policy, writing in his resignation letter: “I am unable to take the currently proposed legislation through the Commons as I do not believe it provides us with the best possible chance of success.”
On Tuesday, Suella Braverman, the former home secretary who was fired by Mr Sunak last month, called for a tougher version of the law to be adopted.
Mrs Braverman told BBC Radio Four’s Today programme: “You can’t tweak at this problem. We can’t do half measures. We have to totally exclude international law – the Refugee Convention, other broader avenues of legal challenge.”
The legislation, the Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill, will be given its first vote in the House of Commons on Tuesday. It remains unclear whether it will have enough support from Tory MPs to pass.