May 29, 2024

Sunak Faces Party Revolt Over Rwanda Migrant Plan Despite New Treaty

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Dec 9, 2023

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is facing a political crisis over his controversial plan to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda, despite signing a new multi-million pound deal with the African nation.

Immigration Minister Quits Over Rwanda Plan

Sunak’s immigration minister Robert Jenrick resigned on Friday in protest of the Rwanda policy. Jenrick said he supported the overall aim of deterring dangerous small boat crossings, but felt “we should pursue reform of the European Convention on Human Rights rather than being distracted by provocative policies that will prove counterproductive.”

His resignation came just hours after the UK signed a new multi-million pound migration and economic deal with Rwanda in an attempt to overcome legal blocks on deporting asylum seekers.

The new treaty changes how the transfers would work in order to “help share responsibility” for migrants arriving illegally in Britain. But critics argue it remains legally questionable and vulnerable to new legal challenges.

Braverman Warns Sunak of “Electoral Oblivion” Over Rwanda Plan

Hardline Home Secretary Suella Braverman has also attacked Sunak over the policy. She warned that failure to control migration will result in “electoral oblivion” for the Conservatives.

This reflects growing unrest on the right-wing of the party. An influential gang of Tory MPs are threatening Brexit-style rebellions against Sunak’s more moderate centrist approach.

Key figures Position
Suella Braverman Hardline Home Secretary
Robert Jenrick Former Immigration Minister (resigned)
Ben Wallace Defence Secretary
Jacob Rees-Mogg Former Business Secretary

Huge Sums Spent on Blocked Rwanda Plan

The controversial Rwanda plan risks becoming a “bottomless money pit” according to critics, with over £240 million already spent on the blocked scheme.

The UK has paid Rwanda £140 million up front, with another £100 million committed in October. Yet so far, not a single asylum seeker has been deported.

Labour MP Clive Lewis slammed the plan as “unworkable, unethical and extortionately expensive.” Officials predict the scheme could end up costing £1.4 billion over nine years if fully implemented.

What Next For Sunak’s Rwanda Plan?

Sunak faces a major political fight to get his revised Rwanda plan through Parliament in the coming days. He will need to convince or strong-arm around 40 of his own MPs to back the plan, or rely on opposition support.

Critics have vowed to examine the new treaty closely and launch fresh legal bids to block any deportations if it passes. The Law Society warned the plan still breaches international law obligations.

A rebellion could also trigger a leadership crisis for Sunak. But the alternative for the PM is being seen as weak on immigration by his own party’s right-flank – a politically dangerous position heading into an election expected next year.

As former Conservative leader William Hague put it, Sunak faces a “hellish dilemma” over his Rwanda migrant plan. Backing down risks infuriating his backbenchers, but ploughing ahead could spark a damaging Tory civil war.

What Is The Rwanda Plan?

The controversial Rwanda plan aims to deter channel crossings and tackle a huge backlog of asylum claims in Britain.

Migrants who arrive illegally in the UK would be flown 4,000 miles to Rwanda to have asylum claims processed there. Those granted refugee status would build lives in the East African nation rather than Britain.

Sunak’s government says this would break people-smuggler business models and reduce dangerous small boat crossings. Last year saw a record 45,756 crossings, despite the threat of deportation to Rwanda.

Key figures
£140 million Paid by UK to Rwanda upfront
£100 million Further funds committed in October
£1.4 billion Potential nine year cost
45,756 Channel migrant crossings in 2022

Critics argue the plan breaches refugee conventions, is logistically unworkable and immoral. Legal challenges led to June deportation flight being grounded.

Why Is Sunak Pushing Ahead?

Sunak voted against former PM Boris Johnson’s Rwanda plan multiple times as Chancellor. So why the sudden zealous support from the new inhabitant of Number 10?

In short – political necessity. Sunak is boxed in by the right-wing of his party and record high channel crossings.

As a Tory moderate who backed Brexit, Sunak already faces suspicion from the hardline Brexiteer wing. Failure to take a firm line on immigration would further undermine his authority and leadership ahead of a likely 2024 election.

Sunak also promised to “grip illegal migration” upon becoming PM. With crossings spiraling, he is desperate to show progress before voters pass judgement.

But pushing ahead also risks infuriating moderate Conservatives and stirring unrest on his backbenches. Sunak has mere months to try and square this political “hellish dilemma”.

What Do The Public Think?

Sunak claims there is “public support” for tighter asylum policies. But polls paint a more mixed picture on the specific Rwanda plan.

A November YouGov survey found a slim majority support deporting channel migrants to Rwanda. But separate polls suggest limited backing for the upfront £120 million payment or withdrawing from human rights laws to progress the scheme.

Rishi Sunak faces a complex political calculation over a plan dividing public opinion. Any rebellion may undermine his leadership ahead of an election. But with unrest over rising migration, can he afford to back down?

Over the coming days, Sunak’s political fate and future of Conservative government could hinge on parliamentary wranglings over the Rwanda migrant plan.




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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