London politics latest: Rwanda Bill passes as Tory MP rebellion fizzles out

Rishi Sunak fought off a rebellion from rightwing Tory MPs to get his Rwanda Bill through the Commons on Wednesday night.

Most hardline Conservative MPs voted for Mr Sunak's flagship immigration plan, which passed by 320 votes to 276 and will now head to the House of Lords.

Some 60 Tory MPs revolted against the Bill on Tuesday night and Lee Anderson and Brendan Clarke-Smith dramatically quit as Conservative Party deputy chairmen to join the rebels.

Downing Street said the Bill is "as tough as it can be" while keeping the Rwandans on board with the scheme.Rightwing MPs wanted to force through amendments designed to make it harder for asylum seekers to appeal against deportation to the African nation.

In the end just 11 Tory MPs, including ex cabinet ministers Suella Braverman and Robert Jenrick, voted against the Bill at its third reading.

It comes after Rishi Sunak came under attack from Sir Keir Starmer at Prime Minister's Questions on Wednesday.

The Labour leader criticised the PM over the 4,250 people identified for removal from the UK that the Home Office has lost contact with and branded the flagship immigration policy a "farce".

Follow live updates below...

22:39 , Rachael Burford

That ends our live coverage of the night. Thanks for following.

You can read a recap of all the action here.

PM statement

22:34 , Rachael Burford

Rishi Sunak is expected to make a public statement on Thursday morning.

He will reportedly call on the House of Lords not to interfere with his Rwanda Bill.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s Safety of Rwanda Bill passed its third reading in the Commons (PA Wire)
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s Safety of Rwanda Bill passed its third reading in the Commons (PA Wire)

22:29 , Rachael Burford

Legal migration minister Tom Pusglove says the Government is "really pleased" that the Rwanda Bill has passed the Commons.

He insists "there is a unity of purpose to get a grip".

He tells the BBC: "It goes to Lords with a strong message from the elected house that we need action - people in the country want to see crossings across the Channel come to an end. This is a really important part of the jigsaw."

Lib Dems call for General Election

22:11 , Rachael Burford

Following the vote Liberal Democrat MP Alistair Carmichael said:

“Tonight is no victory for Rishi Sunak, no matter how he might try to twist it.

“Days of Conservative chaos and infighting has left the Prime Minister’s authority shot. He has proved again and again that he cannot lead his own party, let alone the country.

"All to push through a policy that is destined to fail and has already taken millions out of the taxpayers' pocket.

“The British public can see right through this mess. We need a General Election now - to bring an end to this shambolic government once and for all.”

11 Tory MPs votes against Government

22:05 , Rachael Burford

The division list shows 11 Conservative MPs rebelled to vote against the Safety of Rwanda Bill at third reading.

They were: Suella Braverman, William Cash, Miriam Cates, Simon Clarke, Sarah Dines, James Duddridge, Mark Francois, Andrea Jenkyns, Robert Jenrick, David Jones and Danny Kruger.

There were also several Conservative MPs who took part in other votes during the evening but were listed as "no vote recorded" for Rwanda Bill vote.

The division list shows they included MPs who previously rebelled to support an amendment from Tory former immigration minister Robert Jenrick.

They included: Adam Afriyie, Lee Anderson, Natalie Elphicke, Jonathan Gullis, Sir John Hayes, Adam Holloway, Tom Hunt and Sir John Redwood.

 (PA Wire)
(PA Wire)

Bill passes

21:32 , Rachael Burford

The Rwanda Bill passes with 320 for and 276 against.

MPs begin voting

21:25 , Rachael Burford

MPs are now voting on the Rwanda Bill's third reading.

Results expected before 10pm.

Jeremy Corbyn: Bill "appalling"

21:22 , Rachael Burford

Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn takes says the "Bill is an appalling piece of legislation".

The Islington North independent MP says it "blames people for being victims".

He adds: "Desperate people looking for a place of safety, surely it is our obligation?"

"We could have done better", says rebel Tory MP

21:15 , Rachael Burford

Co-chair of the New Conservatives group Danny Kruger says the current draft of the Bill will not pass.

"I don't think this bill will pass as it's currently drafted," Kruger says.

"The bill still allows lawyers to use international laws and protocols to override this bill."

"I think we could have done better," Kruger adds.

Sir Bill Cash to vote against Bill

20:58 , Rachael Burford

Conservative MP Sir Bill Cash says he will be voting against the Rwanda Bill.

"I want this Bill to succeed and the sole reason I shall be voting against this Bill will be because, on third reading, I don't believe - to use the Home Secretary's own words - that this is the toughest immigration legislation that we could produce, nor do I think we've done whatever it takes."

He adds: "I wish the Government well, but I do have to say that I can't support this in all conscience because I've set out my case and I'm not going to retract it on principle."

20:14 , Rachael Burford

Clauses 9 and 10 of the Bill were also supported by MPs, 340 to 264.

The clauses set out the title of the Bill, and state that it will come into force on the same day the UK's treaty with Rwanda does.

Labour amendment rejected

19:59 , Rachael Burford

Labour amendment to the Bill was rejected 339 to 263.

It would have required the Government to undertake a full impact assessment of thecosts involved in removals to Rwanda.

Votes continuing

19:43 , Rachael Burford

Four more clauses of the Bill are supported by MPs, including measures which insist it is for ministers to decide when they will comply with interim measures from the Strasbourg court.

Clause 3

19:15 , Rachael Burford

MPs are voting on amendments.

They supported Clause 3 remaining part of the Bill 339 to 264.

The Clause sidelines elements of human rights law, to ensure that courts defer to Parliament's "sovereign view" that Rwanda is safe.

"Go and look for new jobs" if Bill fails

18:55 , Rachael Burford

A Tory MP tells his party colleagues that they should "go and look for new jobs" if the Rwanda Bill fails this evening.

Bob Seely says: "We kill the Bill tonight, we can all go and look for new jobs, so that is what we are facing."

Rwanda Bill will pass 'comfortably'

18:33 , Rachael Burford

A Conservative rebel source, speaking after the meeting of hardline Tory MPs, said they expected the Rwanda Bill to pass "quite comfortably" tonight.

Only a "small number" of MPs will vote against the Government.

"The majority of those people who spoke in the room have decided to back the Bill at third reading," they said.

"A small number of colleagues will vote 'No' on a point of principal.

"But the overwhelming likelihood is that the Bill will pass probably quite comfortably this evening."

Majority of rebels will back Bill

18:13 , Rachael Burford

The majority of the rebel Tory MPs, who have been huddled in a meeting room since 5pm, have come out and said they will back the Rwanda Bill at the vote later this evening.

The group expects the legislation to pass comfortably.

Government urged to be transparent about Rwanda funds

18:08 , Rachael Burford

Dame Diana Johnson urges the Government to provide more information about how money allocated for the Rwanda scheme will be spent.

In the Commons, the Labour chairwoman of the Home Affairs Committee says: "As to the money paid to Rwanda already, we now do have some information.

"And I'm grateful (to) the minister on the Treasury bench that he was able to provide us with some information in a letter which the Home Affairs Select Committee has published today.

"It sets out the £120 million, it says 39% was spent on education, 21% on infrastructure, 19% on job creation, 13% on health, 5% is for agriculture, and 3% is for ICT.

"So we know that the Government have also pledged to pay Rwanda a certain amount of money in relation to each asylum seeker removed there. But yet again, we don't actually know how much that will be."

Row brewing over guidance telling civil servants to ignore ECHR rulings

17:50 , Rachael Burford

It is the "responsibility" of civil servants to "implement" any decision by a minister to ignore injunctions from Strasbourg blocking flights to Rwanda, the Cabinet Office has set out in draft guidance for Whitehall.

In a letter to the Home Office's top civil servant, the Cabinet Office said the guidance will be issued to officials if the Rwanda Bill passes through Parliament unamended tonight.

Civil service union Prospect say the orders could put them in an "impossible situation".

Deputy general secretary Garry Graham said: "This in effect could put civil servants in an impossible position where the choice is potentially between breaking international law, disobeying the instructions of a minister (and facing potential disciplinary action) or resigning.

"This is a problem of the Government's own making and they should not be putting civil servants in this invidious position."

"Five families" meeting

17:15 , Rachael Burford

Hardline Tory MPs, who have taken to calling themselves the "five families", are now meeting to discuss the Rwanda Bill.

Jonathan Gullis, Suella Braverman, Jacob Rees Mogg and Robert Jenrick among the MPs seen entering the meeting, being chaired by Danny Kruger.

Tributes pour in for Sir Tony Lloyd

16:58 , Rachael Burford

Tributes are pouring in for veteran Labour MP Sir Tony Lloyd who has died just days after revealing he had an "aggressive and untreatable" form of leukaemia.

In a statement his family said the 73-year-old died peacefully on Wednesday morning.

Rwandan Government: 'No obligation' to return UK's money

16:01 , Rachael Burford

The Rwandan Government says it has "no obligation" to return any of the money the UK has given it under the terms of the immigration agreement

However, government spokeswoman Yolande Makolo says in a statement, that if no migrants come to Rwanda "and the UK government wishes to request a refund of the portion of the funding allocated to support the migrants, we will consider this request".

Makolo says cash paid to Rwanda under the Migration and Economic Development Partnership would both support Rwanda's economic development as well as allow the country to care for asylum seekers deported from the UK.

It follows comments by Rwandan President Paul Kagame earlier suggesting UK funds could be repaid if the deal failed.

At least £400million has been sent to, or committed to, Rwanda for the scheme so far.

Suella Braverman: Rwanda plan 'last chance' to stop small boats

15:58 , Rachael Burford

Ex Home Secretary Sualla Braverman says the Rwanda Bill is the Government's last chance to stop small boats.

She's backing Jenrick's amendment that seeks to ignore findings from the European Court of Human Rights."Decisions coming from [foreign] courts are stopping us controlling our borders," she says.

"If we get it wrong the British people will not forgive us and they would be right to do so."


Rebels taking part in 'ridiculously bad politics'

15:19 , Rachael Burford

Chair of Justice select committee Sir Robert Neill has urged MPs to vote against rebel amendments branding them "legally unsound" and "ridiculously bad politics".

The senior Tory MP says the amendments moved by former immigration minister Robert Jenrick are "otiose, they are unnecessary, and frankly they make what is a difficult situation worse."

"I personally take the view that you should be very loath indeed to ignore the findings of the (European Court of Human Rights) on an interim matter, and it does run the risk... of placing you in breach of your international law obligation in that regard. But the truth is it's a political decision."

"These amendments add nothing to the Bill and I urge (MPs) on both sides of the House to reject them."

Scotland's 'doesn't want Rwanda policy'

15:02 , Rachael Burford

Scotland does not want to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda, SNP MP Joanna Cherry says.

In her amendments, the Edinburgh South West MP is seeking to prevent the Bill from applying to Scotland without legislative consent of the Scottish Parliament.

Cherry tells the Commons: "People in Scotland don't want it, they didn't vote for it.

"In fact actually nobody in the UK voted for this because the policy wasn't in the Government's manifesto.

"In contrast to England and Wales, you won't find any opinion polls carried out in Scotland which support this Bill."

Rwanda failure 'UK's problem'

14:24 , Rachael Burford

Rwanda's President says it's the "UK's problem" that asylum seekers have not yet been sent to the country and suggests British taxpayers' money could be repaid if the deal fails.

Labour: PM should 'seize chance' to get money back from Rwanda

14:10 , Rachael Burford

Responding to President Kagame's comments that the UK could get its money back from the Rwanda scheme, Labour's Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper says:

"If Rwanda says we can have the money back from this failing scheme, Rishi Sunakshould seize the chance, instead of dragging out this Tory asylum chaos anylonger.

"We need proper grip not more of this failing gimmick.

“The taxpayer is being hit for more than £400 million for a scheme that is only likely to cover one per cent of those arriving.

"That money could go instead into strengthening our border security, including Labour’s plan to crackdown on the criminal smuggler gangs with cross border law enforcement and establish a major new returns unit."

Downing Street: Rwanda Bill 'extremely tough'

13:58 , Rachael Burford

The Rwanda Bill is "extremely tough", Downing Street says ahead of the vote.

Sunak's press secretary insists it is "as tough as it can be" while keeping the Rwandans on board with the scheme.

"We don't want to do something which means that they wouldn't participate so we would have nowhere to send people."

He adds that the Government thinks the Bill is the "best way forward, to deliver action quickly".

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

No10 does not deny 4,250 'missing' asylum seekers

13:44 , Rachael Burford

Downing Street does not deny reports that the Home Office has lost contact with more than 4,000 people earmarked for removal to Rwanda.

Asked why Rishi Sunak was unable to answer a question about the missing migrants at Prime Minister's Questions, his official spokesman tells reporters: "The first thing to make clear is that we have removed 24,000 people last year alone.

"Clearly it's a function of people coming here illegally that a number will seek to abscond and will seek to evade the authorities.

"And there is specific work led through the Home Office, who have teams who trace and locate absconders. And obviously that's a rolling process."

PMQs sketch

13:40 , Rachael Burford

"Prime Minister's Questions on Wednesday felt like the overture to the main event later - a Commons showdown over Rishi Sunak’s Rwanda plan", writes our Deputy Political Editor Jitendra Joshi.

"That didn’t stop Sir Keir Starmer from hitting all the right notes in a merciless attack on Tory divisions undermining the PM."

Read his full sketch here.

Rwanda 'will return money if scheme fails'

13:19 , Rachael Burford

Rwandan President Paul Kagame says his government will return the money given to his country by UK taxpayers if no refugees end up flying there.

In a clip captured by the BBC at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Kagame was asked about the Supreme Court's ruling that his country was unsafe for refugees.

He replies that issues with the Rwanda Bill are the "UK's problem" not his.

Kagame adds the money is "only going to be used if those people will come" and could be returned if asylum seekers did not arrive.

At least £400million has been sent to, or committed to, Rwanda for the scheme so far.

Rwanda Bill debate begins

13:07 , Rachael Burford

MPs have begun debating the Government's Rwanda Bill.

This is the final time they will be able to debate and vote on the legislation before it is sent to the House of Lords.

Ella's Law

12:55 , Rachael Burford

Ahead of votes on the Rwanda Bill, Green MP Caroline Lucas is making the case of Ella's Law in the Commons.

Ella Adoo Kissi-Debrah, was a nine-year-old girl from Lewisham who became the first person in the UK to have air pollution listed as a cause of death in 2021.

The new law would enshrine the human right to clean air. It has passed in the House of Lords and now heads to the Commons to be scrutinised by MPs, with its next reading on June 14.

Read our background to the law here.

Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah died from dangerous levels of air pollution in 2013 (Family handout) (PA Media)
Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah died from dangerous levels of air pollution in 2013 (Family handout) (PA Media)

Sunak told off for using 'prop'

12:41 , Rachael Burford

Sunak is told off by Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle for using a prop at the despatch box.

Starmer accuses Sunak of not really being behind the Rwanda plan and says he had to be "talked out of scrapping" it.

"When he sees his party tearing itself apart, hundreds of bald men scrapping over a single broken comb, doesn't he wish that he had the courage to stick to his guns," Sunak says.

Sunak replies: "I have absolute conviction that the plan we've put in place will work because I believe it is important that we grip this problem."

Sunak highlights lawyers who are backing the Government's Rwanda plan, adding: "I know he's always been more interested in what lefty lawyers have to say.

"I've even got here the textbook that he authored for them - and it's called European Human Rights Law by Keir Starmer."

Sir Lindsay intervenes to say: "When I stand up, please sit down. Can I just say we don't use props in this House and I will certainly ensure that if you do need reminding, I certainly will."

SNP: Government 'weaponising' vulnerable

12:29 , Rachael Burford

SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn says the Government is "tearing itself apart on how quickly it can send vulnerable people on a plane to Rwanda".

Rishi Sunak says it is important that the Government stops the boats, saying illegal migration is "not fair".

Hizb ut-Tahrir

12:15 , Rachael Burford

Sunak brings up Starmer previously acting as a lawyer for Hizb ut-Tahrir. The Islamist group, which organised pro-Palestinian protests in London where marchers were encouraged to chant “jihad”, was proscribed a terror organisation, this week.

Expressing support for, or being a member of Hizb ut-Tahrir will become a criminal offence punishable by up to 14 years in prison.

"When I see a group chanting 'jihad' on our streets I ban them," Sunak tells the Commons.

"He [Starmer] invoices them."

Where are the 4,250 missing people?

12:11 , Rachael Burford

Starmer presses Sunak on a missing 4,250 asylum seekers.

It follows allegations that the Home Office has lost contact with 85% of the 5,000 people who were identified for removal to Rwanda.Starmer tells the Commons: "He hasn't got a clue where they are has he?

"I can tell you one place they aren't and that's Rwanda."

Tribute to Bronson Battersby

12:04 , Rachael Burford

Sir Keir Starmer starts with a tribute to Bronson Battersby - the two-year-old boy who was left to die alone from starvation, curled up next to his dead father.

His body was reportedly found with his father Kenneth's in their home in Skegness, Lincolnshire, on January 9.

Bronson Battersby (facebook)
Bronson Battersby (facebook)

12:01 , Rachael Burford

Rishi Sunak is about to face Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer in PMQs.

But it will no doubt be the vote on his flagship Rwanda Bill later that will be on his mind.

Ministers seem confident it will "get through" the Commons later, despite the biggest Tory revolt in his premiership yesterday.

Illegal immigration minister Michael Tomlinson made clear that it was set to be put to a showdown vote.

Read our background to the vote here.