Tory rebels table amendments aimed at ‘toughening’ Sunak’s Rwanda bill

More than 30 Tory MPs are poised to back amendments aimed at “toughening” Rishi Sunak’s Rwanda bill when it returns to the Commons next week.

The prime minister is braced for yet another showdown with the right-wing faction of his party, which believes the legislation in its current form will not stop further legal challenges to the deportation policy.

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The Safety of Rwanda Bill seeks to address the concerns of the Supreme Court, which ruled the Rwanda scheme unlawful last November.

However, Robert Jenrick, the former immigration minister and one of the leading rebels, said: “The bill as drafted simply will not work because it doesn’t end the merry-go-round of legal challenges that frustrate removals.”

The changes he wants to see include a clause to allow ministers to ignore so-called “pyjama injunctions” issued by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), which are last-minute orders from judges that could stop planes from taking off.

He also wants migrants to be blocked from bringing individual claims to suspend flights “in all but a limited set of circumstances”, and a broader block on claims that could be made under international treaties and the European Convention on Human Rights.

The amendments are designed to close off the vast majority of routes to legal challenges by migrants while leaving a few exceptions, such as when a migrant is medically unfit to fly (including pregnancy), or when they are under 18.

They are said to be supported by more 30 Tory MPs, including the recently sacked home secretary Suella Braverman, former cabinet minister Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg and leaders of the New Conservatives Danny Kruger and Miriam Cates.

Mr Jenrick, who resigned in protest over the Rwanda bill, said: “The stakes for the country could not be higher.

“If we don’t fix this bill the country will be consigned to more illegal crossings, more farcical migrant hotels and billions more of wasted taxpayers’ money in the years to come.”

However, the amendments could face opposition from the moderate wing of the Conservative Party, which has warned it will not support any measures which could breach the UK’s international obligations.

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Tory MP appeals for unity ahead of Rwanda bill’s return to parliament
What is the Rwanda plan and why is it controversial?

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Rwanda: ‘We have the balance right’

Mr Sunak has said he would welcome “bright ideas” on how to improve the the bill, but has previously insisted it strikes the right balance between rescuing the deportation plan and more radical measures that would risk Kigali pulling out of the scheme.

The legislation seeks to enable parliament to deem Rwanda “safe” generally but makes limited allowances for personal claims against being sent to the east African nation under a clause disliked by Conservative hardliners.

Mr Sunak won a key Commons vote on the draft law in December despite speculation about a major rebellion, with Tory MPs warning at the time that they will vote it down at a later parliamentary stage if it is not tightened.

MPs will get two days to scrutinise the plan at the committee stage next week, and it will also face heavy scrutiny in the House of Lords.

It comes after Labour was defeated in its bid to force the government to release documents relating to the cost of the scheme, with MPs voting down the plan by 304 votes to 288.

The Home Office has confirmed £290m has been committed to Rwanda, despite no flights having taken off.

But Labour wants to know what future payments have been promised, claiming the cost could balloon to £400m.

Mr Sunak has also recently come under scrutiny over doubts he is said to have had about the scheme before becoming prime minister.

He has made the policy central to his premiership and key to his pledge to prevent Channel crossings.

But reports have suggested that he had doubts about the policy when he was chancellor and during his campaign for the Tory leadership.


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