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May 29, 2024

Sunak Faces Party Revolt Over Rwanda Immigration Plans

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Dec 11, 2023

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is facing a critical test of his leadership this week as he tries to get his controversial Rwanda asylum seeker policy passed in Parliament. But Sunak faces public criticism and open rebellion from his own Conservative party members over the plans.

Background on Rwanda Immigration Plans

The Rwanda policy is aimed at deterring migrants from making dangerous Channel crossings by sending asylum seekers who arrive in Britain “illegally” on a one-way ticket for processing and resettlement in Rwanda. The policy was originally drawn up under former PM Boris Johnson but was stalled amid legal challenges. Sunak has revived it as a flagship policy to demonstrate the government’s commitment to tightening immigration controls.

However, the policy has drawn outrage from human rights groups as well as religious leaders like the Archbishop of Canterbury. Critics argue it is inhumane, expensive, unethical and unlikely to stand up to legal challenges. The UN has warned that some asylum seekers could end up stateless.

Mounting Pressure on PM Ahead of Vote

Sunak was already on the defensive last week amid sinking poll numbers and open speculation of a challenge to his leadership. Now he faces a make-or-break Commons vote on Monday night to try to get Rwanda policy approval.

But dozens of Tory MPs have vowed to rebel, with prominent critics like former ministers David Davis and Andrew Mitchell saying the plans undermine Britain’s position as a defender of human rights.

Sunak and Home Secretary Suella Braverman have been directly lobbying backbenchers to back the bill. But one Downing Street insider said: “The party feels ungovernable, like a dysfunctional family at Christmas lunch where the booze is flowing and the divisions are too deep for Rwanda to patch over.”

Right-wing MP Steve Baker even called for Braverman to be sacked for threatening Conservatives that if they oppose the Rwanda policy “that is effectively to vote in favour of maximum illegality”.

Likely Scenarios After Vote

Political analysts say Sunak faces bad outcomes whether the vote succeeds or fails. Passing the bill risks cementing a view among moderate Conservatives that he panders too much to the party’s hard right faction. But losing the vote would be a humiliating and visible defeat for a prime minister that undermines his authority.

Most expect defeat for the government, opening up speculation Sunak could face an imminent leadership challenge. And it may push him towards calling a snap general election to try to secure his own mandate – an election pollsters predict he would likely lose badly right now.

Meanwhile the opposition Labour party is enjoying watch the Conservatives “fight like rats in a sack” amid what shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper called a “reckless failure of leadership.”

Some key scenarios analysts see playing out:

Scenario Likelihood Possible outcomes
Rwanda bill passes narrowly Low Emboldens right-wing critics calling for tougher policies on migration, courts and human rights
Rwanda bill fails vote High Triggers leadership challenge against Sunak, moves country closer to snap election
Sunak resigns after revolt Moderate Would open chaotic leadership contest while Tories trail Labour by 20+ points in polls

What Happens Next?

All indications are Rishi Sunak will try to tough out the storm and shore up his position regardless of Monday’s outcome. He is still relatively new to the premiership and will point to economic stability as an area where his leadership has delivered results.

But immigration and relations with Europe’s courts now threaten to further fracture a divided Conservative party struggling to articulate a coherent vision post-Brexit. Sunak faces a perilous high wire act trying to balance demands of his rebellious backbenchers, his own principles and public opinion.

Nearly a dozen senior Tories have already announced plans to retire before the next election. Monday’s Rwanda vote will be an early indicator whether Sunak can stem the party’s chaos and keep their disastrous poll numbers from turning into a full-on electoral wipeout.

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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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