Published On: Thu, Jan 18th, 2024

Rishi Sunak wins a majority of 44 in the Safety of Rwanda Bill vote at 320-276 | Politics | News


Tory rebels caved in over the Government’s Rwanda plans last night after a day of high drama in the Commons.

Rishi Sunak won a majority of 44 in the vote on the Safety of Rwanda Bill – 320-276 – despite a threatened revolt by the right of his party. Just 11 Conservatives defied the Prime Minister to vote against his Bill including former Home Secretary Suella Braverman and former Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick.

Another 18 Conservatives abstained including Lee Anderson who quit as deputy party chairman on Tuesday, former PM Theresa May, and senior backbenchers Sir John Redwood and Sir John Hayes.

A No 10 spokesman said afterwards: “The passing of the Bill tonight marks a major step in our plan to stop the boats.

“This is the toughest legislation ever introduced in Parliament to tackle illegal migration and will make clear if you come here illegally you will not be able to stay.

“It is this Government and the Conservative Party who have got boat crossings down by more than a third. We have a plan, we have made progress and this landmark legislation will ensure we get flights off to Rwanda, deter people from making perilous journeys across the channel and stop the boats.”

Home Secretary James Cleverly said earlier: “We will do whatever it takes to stop the boats. And we have been making progress on that pledge, reducing small boat arrivals by over a third last year.

“But to stop the boats for good we need to deter people from making these dangerous journeys.

“This Bill sends an unambiguously clear message that if you enter the United Kingdom illegally you cannot stay. This Bill has been meticulously drafted to end the merry-go-round of legal challenges.”

Whips spent the day cajoling would-be rebels as No10 stood firm in refusing to make concessions. At Prime Minister’s Questions, Mr Sunak and Sir Keir Starmer clashed over migration with the Labour leader claiming the Government was a “farce”.

Mr Sunak replied: “It’s a bit rich to hear him in here pretending he cares about how we actually the boats when he’s said that even if the plan is working to reduce the numbers, he would still scrap it. It’s because he has no values, no conviction and no plan.”

MPs then spent six hours debating attempts to change the Safety of Rwanda Bill but none of the amendments won enough support to pass. Before the crunch vote allowing it to clear the Commons, rebel groups gathered to thrash out what they should do.

Insiders said they were furious the Government had cosied up with the One Nation caucus of centrist Conservative MPs. “Many colleagues deprecated the state of the Parliamentary Party and the feeling was that so many colleagues were out of touch with where the country was,” a source said.

“Lots of amendments will come back from the House of Lords. If the House of Lords chooses to send back amendments that weaken the Bill, amendments will be tabled in lieu that toughen the Bill. The Prime Minister is by no means out of the woods.”

A number of key figures in the rebel camp warned they did not want to bring down the Government by obliterating the Prime Minister’s authority on a flagship bill.

Ms Braverman warned that voters would not forgive MPs if they failed to approve legislation that helped to stop small boats crossing the Channel.

She insisted: “This is our last chance to fix this problem. We have stretched the patience of the British people. But this comes down to a very simple but profound question ultimately of who governs Britain? Is it us, the democratically elected representatives who have been directly sent here on behalf of the people on a clear mandate?”

She wondered if the power lay “many miles away in a different country, distant, outsourced, foreign, which does not share our values”.

She told the Commons that the European Court of Human Rights was “currently controlling this country’s ability to stop the boats”.

Other Tory rebels last night were William Cash, Miriam Cates, Simon Clarke, Sarah Dines, James Duddridge, Mark Francois, Andrea Jenkyns, David Jones and Danny Kruger. Although the Bill has cleared the Commons it is expected to face serious opposition in the Lords.

Mr Jenrick, who was behind rebel amendments, said European judges n eal could scupper the plan to send migrants to Rwanda in a deal with its president Paul Kagame.

In 2022, the Strasbourg court granted an injunction which effectively grounded a flight sending asylum seekers from the UK to Rwanda.

Mr Jenrick said similar such injunctions could emerge from Strasbourg that leave the UK Government “scrambling around” in a bid to resolve this unless changes are made to the Bill.

He told the Commons: “I don’t believe that our membership of the European Convention on Human Rights is sustainable.”

Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron said opponents of the Rwanda plan who did not come up with alternatives have “nothing to say about solving this problem”.



Source link

Verified by MonsterInsights