Boris Johnson has expressed support for the Conservative rebels’ proposal to tighten the Rwanda deportation bill, directly intervening on behalf of those opposing his successor, Rishi Sunak.
The ex-prime minister utilized social media platform X to share an article from right-leaning Tory rebel Simon Clarke, in which he criticized the bill as being flawed and stated that he would not back it if changes were made.
Johnson stated that the bill should be as legally strong as possible and that the best approach is to implement the proposed changes.
Conservative MPs are rebelling against the bill and may vote against it. They referenced a survey, allegedly financed by Sunak’s conservative opponents, which revealed that among 111 constituencies, voters want asylum seekers to be deported without the ability to appeal.
The Conservative party leader is dealing with a potential crisis as two deputy chairs have announced their support for rebel amendments to the Rwanda deportation bill. These amendments are intended to prevent international human rights laws from being enforced.
Lee Anderson and Brendan Clarke-Smith have gone against Sunak by supporting conservative opposition to the legislation, which is scheduled for discussion in parliament on Tuesday.
On Tuesday morning, there were ongoing conflicts within the conservative party. Robert Jenrick, who stepped down as immigration minister last month, wrote an article in the Daily Telegraph where he accused his colleagues of attempting to discredit his proposed changes to the Rwanda legislation by labeling them as extreme right-wing views.
The Member of Parliament, who has proposed several changes, including one that would prevent individuals from making “suspensive claims” against their removal, stated that opponents should take note of poll results published in the Telegraph.
The findings, which came a day after a different survey indicated that the Conservative party was likely to suffer major losses in the upcoming election, were disregarded by the party’s leaders as the actions of individuals trying to harm them. The results showed that in 310 out of 361 seats in England and Wales, Labour is expected to come out as the victor, with the advocated policy being the preferred choice.
The survey was requested by the Conservative Britain Alliance, a previously unidentified organization referred to as simply a “collection of Conservative contributors.”
In an interview on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Miriam Cates, a well-known conservative member of parliament, mentioned the poll to support her stance and stated that she was willing to reject the bill. She expressed that lengthy debates on disputed laws do not align with the public’s wishes, but it is widely agreed that secure borders are necessary.
Officials within the government remain confident that they will successfully pass the committee stage of the bill on Tuesday without any changes. However, the crucial third reading vote on Wednesday poses a greater obstacle as it would only require 29 Conservative MPs to go against the party, or 57 to refrain from voting, for the bill to be defeated.
The prime minister received another setback when the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) stated that the Rwanda bill and treaty signed with Kigali were not in line with international refugee laws.
After reassessing the plan, which was changed by the government following the UK’s supreme court’s ruling in November that deemed it “unlawful”, the UN organization stated that it does not meet the necessary criteria for legality and propriety in regards to transferring asylum seekers and is not in accordance with international refugee laws.
The statement stated: “As of January 2024, there have been no noticeable changes in the way asylum cases are decided by UNHCR that would address the concerns outlined in its 2022 evaluation and the extensive evidence presented to the supreme court.”
“The agreement provides a significant foundation for enhancing the asylum process, but without the proper laws and resources in place, simply signing the treaty will not resolve ongoing issues with fairness and protection gaps in the system.”
The statement from Downing Street stated that they do not share the same opinion as the UNHCR evaluation. The spokesperson for the prime minister commented, “I am not aware of the exact details of their statement, but we have provided a summary of our legal counsel and are currently working on legislation to allow us to proceed with our plans.”
The UNHCR has collaborated with Rwanda to ensure the safe acceptance of migrants, potentially from Libya, with some being accepted very recently.