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June 20, 2024

Sunak Battles Growing Rebellion Over Controversial Rwanda Deportation Plan

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Jan 16, 2024

Tory MPs Resign Over Rwanda Vote

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is facing a major Conservative rebellion in Parliament this week over proposed legislation to send some asylum seekers to Rwanda for processing.

The Nationality and Borders Bill, a key part of the government’s plan to curb illegal migration, would allow the UK to deport asylum seekers who arrive illegally across the English Channel to Rwanda, where their claims would be processed. If granted asylum, they would have the right to settle in Rwanda rather than the UK.

Two Conservative deputy party chairmen, Lee Anderson and Brendan Clarke-Smith, resigned from their posts on Monday after backing several amendments to the bill that aim to impose more parliamentary oversight over the controversial plan. [1]

Their resignations underscore the level of discontent within Sunak’s party over the Rwanda policy ahead of a key vote on Tuesday. Sunak had personally appealed to Anderson to remain in his post and said the MP had been “an excellent deputy chairman.” [2]

What is the Rwanda Plan?

The Rwanda plan was initially pitched by former Prime Minister Boris Johnson as a way to curb dangerous small boat crossings of the English Channel by migrants and deter people from making the journey. [3]

Key Points
Asylum seekers who cross the Channel in small boats would be given a one-way ticket to Rwanda
Their asylum claims would be processed in Rwanda, not the UK
Those granted asylum would have the right to settle in Rwanda
The UK signed a £120 million economic deal with Rwanda and would pay for costs
Aims to break the business model of people smugglers and deter Channel crossings

The first deportation flight was scheduled to take off in June 2022 but was grounded after a last-minute intervention from the European Court of Human Rights over human rights concerns. No one has yet been removed to Rwanda. [4]

Sunak has revived the plan since becoming prime minister, calling it an “important part of our approach” to fixing the UK’s “broken” asylum system amid record numbers of migrants crossing the Channel. [5]

Home Secretary Suella Braverman has claimed the policy is “completely lawful” and the right approach to tackling illegal migration. [6]

Mounting Opposition in Parliament

The Rwanda plan faces vocal opposition from humanitarian groups, religious leaders such as the Archbishop of Canterbury, and domestic courts. Now Sunak is battling against a growing rebellion within his own party. [7]

Several senior Conservatives have come out against the plan in recent days:

  • Former Home Secretary Robert Jenrick said while tackling illegal migration is important, “we shouldn’t do that by harming our tradition of compassion” [8]

  • Former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith plans to rebel, warning of “considerable concern” among MPs [9]

  • Andrew Mitchell said the plan raises “profound moral issues” and makes him feel “deeply uncomfortable” [10]

Sunak is facing pressure to pull the bill, but senior ministers have indicated he will stand firm and seek to push it through with Labour support if Tory rebels sink it. [11]

What Happens Next?

The Commons will hold a second reading vote on the bill Tuesday. Several amendments will also be voted on that could place restrictions on the policy if passed. [12]

It remains unclear whether Sunak can rally enough Conservative support for the bill to pass without help from the opposition Labour Party. A significant rebellion would damage Sunak’s authority and could sink the Rwanda plan entirely. [13]

If the bill clears the Commons, it would still need approval from the House of Lords. Immigration experts believe Sunak’s chances of fully implementing deportations to Rwanda remain low regardless due to ongoing legal challenges. [14]

But the vote has become a key test of Sunak’s ability to maintain party discipline. His leadership could be threatened if he fails to rally Conservatives behind his flagship migration policy amid criticism he is unable to control his backbenchers. [15]

Sunak took over from Truss in October 2022 vowing to fix divisions within the ruling Conservative party. The Rwanda vote will show if the new prime minister has truly steadied the ship – or if his government is staring down the abyss of yet another crisis. [16]

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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