Daily Express

Rishi: I’m open to Tory rebels’ ‘respectabl­e’ changes to toughen up our Rwanda plan

- By Sam Lister Political Editor

RISHI Sunak says he is open to toughening up his Rwanda deportatio­n laws after Tory rebels called for a hardline approach.

The Prime Minister is facing a series of fresh battles with backbenche­rs on both wings of the party when the legislatio­n returns to the Commons in the new year.

Hardliners want tougher reforms that will stop migrants using legal rights to appeal and avoid being put on a flight to Africa.

But Tory centrists have warned they will not back radical changes to a Bill they already have concerns about.

Mr Sunak said: “I’ve been very consistent­ly clear, as have all ministers, if there are ways that the legislatio­n can be improved, to be made even more effective, with a respectabl­e legal argument and maintainin­g the participat­ion of the Rwandans in the scheme, of course we would be open to that.Who wouldn’t be?”

The PM won a crunch vote with a 44-strong majority in the Commons on his emergency draft law aimed at reviving the policy to deport some asylum seekers to the east African nation.

Mr Sunak previously insisted the legislatio­n strikes the right balance between the demands of both wings of his party.

He suggested there is only an “inch” between his rescue plan and more radical measures that would risk Rwanda pulling out of the scheme.

But Mr Sunak has refused to say how soon flights to capital Kigali will take off if he gets the legislatio­n through the Commons and Lords, where it is expected to face heavy scrutiny. Right-wing Tory factions, including the European Research Group, have threatened to vote down the Safety of Rwanda Bill unless it is hardened, including by denying asylum seekers individual appeals. But this could risk losing the backing of more centrist Tories, who are keen to protect the legislatio­n against breaches of internatio­nal law.

A number of Tory MPs have privately put forward suggestion­s to No10 of how the Bill could be tightened up.

But Justice Secretary Alex Chalk has insisted the Government will not cave in to pressure from the Right by watering down the Bill’s commitment to internatio­nal obligation­s.

The legislatio­n seeks to enable Parliament to deem Rwanda as “safe” generally, but makes limited allowances for personal claims against being sent to Kigali under a clause disliked by Conservati­ve hardliners.

Mr Sunak has tried to find a middle ground with the Bill.

It is designed to prevent migrants who arrive in Britain via unauthoris­ed routes from challengin­g deportatio­n,

after the Supreme Court ruled the flagship policy unlawful.

The Bill allows ministers to disapply the Human Rights Act, but does not go as far as overriding the European Convention on Human Rights. MPs on the Conservati­ve right have argued that is necessary to get the grounded £290million scheme running.


Tobias Ellwood, one of the One Nation group of centrists, said he could not back legislatio­n that “rips up” internatio­nal law.

He said: “I can’t support any policy that then actually dictates Parliament determinin­g if a country is safe.

“And that’s actually in clause two of the Bill. Every decision maker must conclusive­ly treat the republic of

Rwanda as a safe country. It’s not up to Parliament to make that judgment.”

Mr Ellwood also said there is no data that shows the plan would act as a deterrent to migrants crossing the Channel in small boats.

He added: “If they’ve taken the risk, paid a lot of money to a criminal gang to get across the Channel, then they will do whatever they can to avoid going to Rwanda.

“I’m not giving it a chance because it breaches internatio­nal law.

“I’m happy with the concept of us taking people to another place. Even the Supreme Court said that is

OK. But I’m not happy with supporting a Bill that says no, we’re going to rip up internatio­nal law. That’s not a good look.”

Downing Street insisted it still considered the proposal the best way of solving the small boats crisis.

The PM’s official spokesman said: “We continue to believe that the Bill is the right way forward.

“It is what is necessary to get flights off the ground. “We talked yesterday about the parameters the Bill needs to work under, but within that we are very keen to hear more from MPs.” Yesterday, Mr Sunak put the Rwanda row aside as he joined MP Mike Freer to chat about maths with pupils at the Wren Academy in Finchley, North London.

 ?? ??
 ?? ?? No cut in sight Andrew Bailey ...
No cut in sight Andrew Bailey ...
 ?? ?? Pledge... Alex Chalk
Pledge... Alex Chalk
 ?? Pictures: RICHARD POHLE/PA ?? Long division...Rishi Sunak put his party split aside to talk maths during a visit to a school with MP Mike Freer, right
Pictures: RICHARD POHLE/PA Long division...Rishi Sunak put his party split aside to talk maths during a visit to a school with MP Mike Freer, right
 ?? ?? Bill criticism... Tobias Ellwood
Bill criticism... Tobias Ellwood

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