The prime minister has been warned by conservative rebels that up to 70 MPs may either support amendments or choose not to vote in favor of Rishi Sunak’s main bill for Rwanda. They have stated that if the legislation is not strengthened, he will have no options left.
One prominent member of the conservative faction within the party stated that a minimum of three assistant ministers and six members of the Conservative Party, including a vice-chair, have already notified the whips that they are “supportive” of the proposed changes.
There are reports indicating that Lee Anderson, who is the vice-chairman of the party, may be among the “six Conservatives employed by the party” who are willing to endorse the amendments. Currently, 56 MPs have shown support for these amendments, including Robert Jenrick, Suella Braverman, Iain Duncan Smith, Liz Truss, John Redwood, Jake Berry, David Jones, Jacob Rees-Mogg, and Simon Clarke.
According to reports from the Telegraph and the Times, Anderson, the representative for Ashfield, has expressed support for the rebels’ efforts to strengthen the legislation. He also stated that he plans to vote in favor of their proposals this week. Meanwhile, the business secretary, Kemi Badenoch, has informed Sunak that the legislation is lacking and needs to be made more strict.
The Sunak administration’s strategy to prevent small boat crossings entails the Rwanda legislation, which will undergo multiple votes in the House of Commons on Tuesday. Some Conservative MPs feel that the bill does not adequately address the issue of international courts intervening in the government’s efforts to deport asylum-seekers to Rwanda.
Excluding abstentions, which would increase the number of rebels to 70, sources within the Conservative party believe they have the potential to defeat the Rwanda bill during its third reading on Wednesday.
On Sunday, John Hayes from the Common Sense group, Mark Francois from the European Research group, and Danny Kruger from the New Conservatives stated that they had chosen not to vote during the initial vote on the bill before Christmas. This decision was based on Sunak’s promise to make necessary adjustments to the bill, which they believed and trusted.
However, Hayes warned the prime minister that if he does not strengthen the bill, there could be serious consequences. In an interview with The Guardian, Hayes stated, “If the prime minister refuses to make any concessions and this policy ultimately fails, leading us to the predicted result of being blocked in the courts, he will have no options left.”
“We did warn you that this would happen, and we made efforts to ensure accuracy, but you refused to comply. This is a crucial situation for him.”
“The focus is on the methods rather than the outcomes. Therefore, we are all striving towards the same objective. There is no fundamental disagreement. It is a discussion on the importance and subtleties, and in this situation, the importance holds great weight.”
The prime minister has stated that making any additional changes to the Rwanda bill may result in Rwanda withdrawing from the agreement.
The One Nation group may also face opposition from less extreme members of the Tory party if proposed changes pose a threat to international law.
Labour will not support any of the amendments proposed by the rightwing, leaving the Tory rebels with only one opportunity to defeat the legislation by voting against it completely.
Robert Buckland, who previously held the position of justice secretary, has announced that he will not support the bill this week if any changes to the legislation are made. During an interview with Times Radio, he stated, “In my opinion, the bill already adheres to the rule of law, although it may go slightly beyond my personal preference.”
I believe that constantly making extraordinary arguments to justify this as an extraordinary circumstance can damage the mutual respect that should exist between parliament and our court system, and ultimately weaken the foundation of our constitution.