Attempts by the Conservative right to strengthen the Government’s Rwanda plan “represent the last opportunity” to make sure it is a strong deterrent to small boat crossings, Robert Jenrick has warned the Government.
The Tory former Home Office minister is leading efforts by a group of Conservative MPs on the right of the party to toughen up the Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill as it returns to Parliament.
Mr Jenrick’s amendments to the Bill aim to severely limit individual asylum seekers’ ability to appeal against being put on a flight to Kigali.
He urged Rishi Sunak to accept changes backed by right-wing Tory dissenters, as there was “no reason” why he could not unless the Government’s “goal posts have been shifted”.
The Tory MP for Newark told the Commons his changes, alongside those tabled by veteran Tory Sir Bill Cash, “seek to address the evident flaws of the Bill”.
“They represent the last opportunity for us to get this policy right,” he added.
Mr Jenrick claimed the Bill as it stands will not provide a strong enough deterrent for what he called the “scourge of mass migration”, and claimed it needed to be tougher in order to provide a “sustainable deterrent” to people boarding small boats to cross the English Channel.
In its current state, Mr Jenrick said the Bill left loopholes open which would allow individuals to claim Rwanda would not be safe for them specifically, even if it was deemed a safe country overall.
He warned: “Of course as we have seen in the past, one person will mount a successful challenge, that will create a precedent.”
Mr Jenrick added: “Time and again we will lose these cases in the courts. So the Bill in that respect is legally flawed.”
Mr Jenrick went on to challenge the Prime Minister to accept his amendments, telling MPs: “The Prime Minister set a test to me, and to anyone who shares my determination to tackle this issue, and that was as follows – that he would accept any amendment whether it strengthened this Bill, if there were respectable legal arguments in international law in their favour.”
He claimed “a very eminent lawyer” had found amendments tabled by the Tory right were “compliant with international law”, adding: “That was the test, we have met the test.”
Mr Jenrick went on: “Unless the goal posts have been shifted by the Government, I see no reason why the Prime Minister and the minister couldn’t accept these amendments and enable us to strengthen this Bill once and for all.”