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Rwanda Bill: Sunak defeats rebel threat to win key vote

Following two days of debate, MPs voted in favour of the legislation, despite up to 60 rebels having previously indicated they were unhappy with the bill

Rwanda Bill: Sunak defeats rebel threat to win key vote

The prime minister has won a crucial vote on the Rwanda Bill, fending off a threat from Tory rebels to secure a comfortable majority of 320-276.

Following two days of debate, MPs voted in favour of the legislation, despite up to 60 rebels having previously indicated they were unhappy with the bill in its current form.

MPs voted 320 to 276, majority 44, to approve the Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill at third reading. The division list showed 11 Conservative MPs rebelled to vote against the Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill at third reading.

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

There were several Conservative MPs who took part in other votes during Wednesday evening but were listed as no vote recorded for the third reading vote.

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

Fifty eight Tory rebels on Wednesday voted in favour of an amendment to the bill by Sir Bill Cash, which says neither UK or international law can be used 'to prevent or delay the removal to Rwanda of any individual’ - however the amendment did not pass. Similarly, 58 rebels also backed Robert Jenrick's amendment, which also failed.

Yahoo News has ended its live coverage of the Rwanda Bill. For all the latest news, click here.

LIVE COVERAGE IS OVER50 updates
  • OPINION: Rwanda plan has to be seen to work

    Rishi Sunak faced down his critics on the Conservative Right tonight, securing support for a Bill intended to stop the small boat crossings by deporting illegal immigrants to Rwanda. After around 60 Tory MPs defied a three-line whip on Tuesday and Wednesday in support of amendments to toughen up the legislation, the rebels were unprepared to take the nuclear option and defeat the Bill in its entirety.

    Read the full story from The Telegraph.

  • UK's Sunak survives knife-edge vote as Rwanda bill clears Commons

    UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak survived a key test of his leadership Wednesday, fending off right-wing rebels to win a crunch parliamentary vote on his contentious plan to send migrants to Rwanda.

    Sunak, in power since October 2022, has staked his political future on the scheme, as Britain gears up for its next general election later this year.

    Right-wing Conservatives had threatened to kill the Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill, but they ultimately backed down and the government won comfortably by 320 votes to 276.

    Read the full story from AFP.

  • Rwanda scheme is like 'Emperor's new clothes', says Cooper

    James Cleverly is “wandering naked around this chamber” and using a “little treaty as a fig leaf to hide his modesty behind”, Labour’s shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said.

    The home secretary could be seen making hand gestures in response.

    Speaking in the Commons, Cooper said: “They’re trying to con voters, trying to con their own party, but the fact is everybody can see through it now.

    “Here’s a £400 million Rwanda scheme for a few hundred people is like the Emperor’s new clothes and the Prime Minister and his immigration ministers have been desperately spinning the invisible thread, but we can all see through it.

    “The home secretary is just wandering naked around this chamber waving a little treaty as a fig leaf to hide his modesty behind.

    “I admit, he doesn’t have much modesty to hide.”

  • Rwanda Bill passes third reading

    MPs voted 320 to 276, majority 44, to approve the Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill at third reading.

  • PM's authority in 'tatters' over Tory chaos, says Cooper

    London, UK. 8 January 2024. Yvette Cooper, Shadow Home secretary and Labour MP for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford seen in Westminster. Credit: amer ghazzal/Alamy Live News
    Yvette Cooper said the prime minister's authority was in tatters. (Alamy Live News)

    The Tory chaos has left the prime minister’s authority in “tatters”, Labour’s shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said.

    Speaking in the Commons during the third reading of the Bill, Cooper said: “This chaos leaves the prime minister’s authority in tatters, he’s in office but not in power. No one agrees with him on his policy. And the real weaknesses is that he doesn’t even agree with it himself.

    “A prime minister who is so weak he has lost control of the asylum system, lost control of our borders and lost any control of the Tory party.”

  • Cash confirms he will be voting against Bill

    Conservative MP Sir William Cash has said he will be voting against the Rwanda Bill on third reading.

    Speaking in the Commons, Cash said: “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 added: “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.”

  • We will do whatever it takes to stop small boats, Cleverly says

    Downing Street, London, UK. 16th January 2024.  Home Secretary, James Cleverly, attends the weekly Cabinet Meeting at 10 Downing Street. Photo by Amanda Rose/Alamy Live News
    Home secretary James Cleverly said the government would do whatever it takes top stop small boats. (Alamy)

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

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

    He added: “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.”

  • Labour's Dame Johnson asks for more information how Rwanda money will be spent

    Labour's Dame Johnson asks for more information how Rwanda money will be spent

    Labour chairwoman of the Home Affairs Committee Dame Diana Johnson urged the Government to provide more information about how money allocated for the Rwanda scheme will be spent.

    “As to the money paid to Rwanda already, we now do have some information," she said. "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.”

  • Cleverly says he has 'respect' for Tories who attempted to strengthen Rwanda Bill

    James Cleverly said he has “respect” for Tory MPs who sought to strengthen the Rwanda Bill.

    Speaking during the Bill’s third reading, the Home Secretary told the Commons: “We are united in the agreement that stopping the boats… and getting (the) Rwanda partnership up and running is of the utmost importance.

    “And having a debate about how to get the policy right is of course what this House is for, that is our collective job, and I respect my good friends and colleagues on my side for putting forward amendments in good faith in order to do what they believe will strengthen the Bill.”

  • Clauses 9 and 10 pass

    Clauses 9 and 10 of the Bill were also supported by MPs, 340 to 264, majority 76.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.

    A Labour amendment to the Bill was rejected 339 to 263, majority 76, which would have required the Government to undertake a full impact assessment of the costs involved in removals to Rwanda.

  • What is a rule 39 order?

    AMESBURY, WILTSHIRE - JUNE 14: The grounded Rwanda deportation flight EC-LZO Boeing 767 at Boscombe Down Air Base, on June 14, 2022 in Boscombe Down near Amesbury, Wiltshire, England. The flight taking asylum seekers from the UK to Rwanda has been grounded at the last minute after intervention of the European Court of Human Rights. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
    A Rwanda asylum flight was cancelled at the 11th-hour after an intervention by the ECHR. (Getty)

    One of the key elements of the debate today has centred around so-called Rule 39 injunctions, which was used by the European Court of Human Rights to ground a deportation flight to Rwanda in 2022.

    Sunak has said there are circumstances under which he would be prepared to ignore such orders in the future in order to placate critics - but hardline Tories have wanted the pledge written into law.

    According to experts at the UK in a Changing Europe website, rule 39 injunctions are “urgent orders issued by the European Court of Human Rights on an exceptional basis, where there is a ‘real risk of serious and irreversible harm’.”

    It adds that such measures are normally used where a person “faces a risk to their life or a risk that they may suffer torture or inhuman or degrading treatment, for example, when they are imprisoned, or if they are sent to another country”.

    A rule 39 order was used to prevent the removal of an asylum seeker to Rwanda in June 22 amid fears they would not receive a fair hearing.

    Rule 39s were also used to evacuate Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny to Germany in 2020 after he was poisoned and to secure the release of two British citizens who had fought with the Ukrainian armed forces and were seeking to escape a Russian death sentence.

    On Wednesday, the government told civil servants it was their “responsibility” to “implement” a minister’s decision to ignore injunctions from Strasbourg blocking flights to Rwanda.

    Civil service union Prospect said the draft guidance 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."

  • Jacob Rees-Mogg backing the Bill

    London, UK. 14th Nov, 2023. Jacob Rees-Mogg, Launch of the The Growth Budget in Westminster by The Growth Commission. The event was attended by Former Prime Minister, Liz Truss, Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg and Lord Frost as well as jounalists and economists. Credit: Karl Black/Alamy Live News
    Jacob Rees-Mogg has said he will vote for the government. (Alamy)

    The Commons rejected Robert Jenrick’s amendment 23 to the Bill 536 to 65 - a majority of 471 which aimed to state that emergency injunctions from European judges could be ignored by UK ministers.

    While that meant 59 Tory MPs voted in favour of the amendment there is still no indication that Sunak is set to lose the key vote later this evening - the third reading.

    A Conservative source said they expected the Bill to pass “quite comfortably”, with only a “small number” of MPs voting it down.

    The announcement was made after more than 45 right-wing Tories, including former home secretary Suella Braverman and former immigration minister Robert Jenrick, met in a Commons committee room to discuss their approach to a series of crunch votes for Rishi Sunak on Wednesday evening.

    Former business secretary Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg confirmed to reporters after the meeting that he would be “voting with the Government” during the third reading of the Bill.

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

  • Immigration minister insists Sunak is tough enough

    Illegal migration minister Michael Tomlinson leaves the Millbank Studios in Westminster, central London. Picture date: Wednesday January 17, 2024.
    Illegal migration minister Michael Tomlinson. (Alamy)

    MPs have backed 'Clause 3' of the Bill by 339 votes to 264, a majority of 75. The Clause disapplies elements of human rights law, to ensure that courts defer to Parliament’s “sovereign view” that Rwanda is safe.

    It comes after immigration minister Michael Tomlinson sought to reassure MPs that rebel amendments were not needed to safeguard against loopholes in the Rwanda plan.

    Tomlinson insisted the Bill would go further than previous efforts by the Government, including those seen through Parliament by his predecessor Robert Jenrick, as it “disapplies further elements of the Human Rights Act”.

    He said: “The Prime Minister has been clear that he will not let a foreign court block these flights, we simply cannot let an international court dictate our border security and stop us from establishing a deterrent.”

    “It is for ministers and ministers alone whether to comply with rule 39 injunctions”, he said, adding: “We would not have inserted clause five if we were not prepared to use it. And I can confirm to the House that we can and will lawfully use that power if the circumstances arise. The discretion is there.”

    Earlier, civil servants were told they must comply with a minister's decision to ignore a rule 39 order from the European Court of Human Rights.

  • 'Go and look for new jobs'

    A Conservative MP has told his party colleagues they should “go and look for new jobs” if the Rwanda Bill fails this evening.

    Speaking in the Commons, Bob Seely (Isle of Wight) said: “We kill the Bill tonight, we can all go and look for new jobs, so that is what we are facing.”

    Mr Seely told MPs that colleagues who believed a new Bill could be written up were living in “la la land”. He said: “On the WhatsApp group that we were chatting on about this earlier, one of our colleagues from the north east posted the idea that we could have a new Bill, that a new Bill would be written.

  • Tory rebels have own version of Rwanda Bill

  • Hayes says 'malevolent foreigners' and 'malevolent people here' making it hard to deport migrants

    Senior right-wing Tory Sir John Hayes has complained about lawyers frustrating attempts to deport migrants, claiming: “It is not just malevolent foreigners, it is malevolent people here too.”

    He added: “The truth of the matter is the only way that we will affect this policy and I say this to the minister is if we do not allow that kind of gaming of our system, both by those who come here – although I entirely accept there are among them people of course who we should welcome… – but those people who are legitimate applicants for asylum are being effectively compromised by a system that doesn’t adequately distinguish them from the very people that I have described as gaming our far too lax system.”

  • What time is the third reading vote?

    MPs are expected to begin voting on amendments from 7pm, with a vote on the Bill's third reading expected at around 9.30pm.

  • Cabinet Office sets out guidance on Rwanda for officials

    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.

    The draft guidance reads: “In the event that the Minister, having received policy, operational and legal advice on the specific facts of that case, decides not to comply with a Rule 39 indication, it is the responsibility of civil servants – operating under the Civil Service Code – to implement that decision. This applies to all civil servants.”

  • Rwanda scheme is 'only show in town', says Tory former minister

    Rwanda scheme is not perfect but it’s “the only real show in town”, Conservative former minister Tim Loughton said.

    Speaking in the Commons, the MP for East Worthing and Shoreham said: “The Rwanda scheme is not perfect, I think all of us will agree with that, but frankly it is the only real show in town at the moment to answer this central question.”

    He added: “How do you deal with people who have come to this country, mostly by small boats, having paid criminal gangs, with no credible prospect of being able to lodge an acceptable asylum claim, and who come from countries for to which it is virtually, if not completely impossible, to return them?

    “So they know that once they have made it across the midway of the channel and they are in British territorial waters, they are effectively in the United Kingdom for the foreseeable future. That is absolutely the question that is at the heart of this whole Bill.”

    Mr Loughton also argued that the European Convention on Human Rights needed reform, adding: “So I support the case for not being bound by article 39 rulings and as I say we need urgently to seek to work with our partners, through the Council of Europe and others, to reform them. It’s a very opaque government system.”

  • Senior Tories explain why they resigned over Rwanda Bill

    Lee Anderson and Brendan Clarke-Smith explain why they resigned over amendments to the Rwanda B

  • Braverman says voters will not forgive MPs if they don't solve small boats issue

    Britain's Home Secretary Suella Braverman pauses, during a press conference in the capital Kigali, Rwanda Saturday, March 18, 2023. Braverman arrived in Rwanda on Saturday for a visit aimed at reinforcing the U.K. government's commitment to a controversial plan to deport some asylum-seekers to the African country. (AP Photo)
    Suella Braverman said voters will not forgive MPs if they do not vote for the Rwanda Bill. (AP Photo)

    British voters will not forgive MPs if they fail to approve legislation that helps to stop small boats crossing the Channel, according to Conservative former home secretary Suella Braverman.

    Speaking in the Commons, Mrs Braverman said: “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 British people on a clear mandate and a clear instruction on what to do and whose laws are passed by a clear and transparent majority to which we can all be held to account at the ballot box, or is it an opaque fora, many miles away in a different country, distant, outsourced, foreign, which does not share our values, which has made decisions time and time again which are at odds with what the British people have indicated that they want and which has operated to undermine our public safety, our national security and our good governance?”

    Braverman said the European Court of Human Rights is “currently controlling this country’s ability to stop the boats”, adding: “We are being governed by a foreign court and judges who do not have our interests at heart. The decisions coming from that court are stopping us from controlling our borders.”

    Speaking in support of Robert Jenrick’s amendment, she said: “The amendment tabled here will prevent that foreign court from stopping us and that’s why we need to support this amendment, it will fix this Bill. This Bill needs to work, its our last chance, if we get it wrong the British people will not forgive us and they would be right to do so.”

  • Rwanda has 'no obligation' to return funds if migrant deal fails, spokesperson says

    Rwandan government spokeswoman Yolande Makolo said the country has “no obligation” to return any of the funds paid but if the UK requests a refund “we will consider this” after president Paul Kagame suggested British taxpayers’ money could be repaid if the migrant deal failed.

    She said in a statement: “The funds paid to Rwanda under the Migration and Economic Development Partnership are intended to both support Rwanda’s economic development, and to allow us to prepare to receive and care for the migrants when they arrive.

    “Under the terms of the agreement, Rwanda has no obligation to return any of the funds paid. However, if no migrants come to Rwanda under the scheme, 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.

    “To talk about figures at this point is premature, as we are still awaiting the conclusion of the UK legislative process and remain committed to making the partnership work.”

  • Former justice secretary urges MPs not to support rebel amendments

    Conservative former minister Sir Robert Buckland urged MPs not to support rebel amendments to the Bill.

    The former justice secretary said MPs needed to show a “sense of restraint” in seeking to amend the government’s Rwanda legislation.

    He told the Commons: “I am just sounding a word of warning here that in treading too heavily down this path of exceptionalism, in going too far in normalising what were the exceptional circumstances of withdrawal from the EU, and I should know that because I sat on that frontbench making the case for many of the provisions with the EU Withdrawal Act that are cited by the Member for Stone (Sir Bill Cash) and others, those were exceptional times.

    “This I know is an exceptional global challenge, but before I conclude my remarks I will simply say this.

    “We need to tread carefully, if we don’t then what we do is in trying to deal with an external problem we create internal constitutional and legal problems of our own, that I don’t think any self-respecting Conservative government would want to do, and any self-respective Parliament would want to follow.

    “For those reasons I would urged Members to reject many of the amendments that I think complicate this Bill and to follow the maxim that less is more.”

  • Labour says its is 'utterly shameful' for government to prioritise Rwanda claims amid rape case backlog

    Labour criticised the prime minister’s plans to find more judges to deal with expected Rwanda legal claims, suggesting it was “utterly shameful” to prioritise this while rape victims languished in the justice system.

    Shadow Home Office minister Stephen Kinnock told MPs: “Does the prime minister know that under his leadership and on his watch the Crown Court backlog in this country is at a record high of 65,000, victims of serious crime regularly are waiting more than two years for their day in court so they can seek justice against their perpetrator?

    “A completely and utterly broken system due to 14 years of Tory incompetence and indifference, and yet the prime minister clicks his fingers and is glibly apparently able to magic up 150 judges and 1,000 staff.”

    He added: “Regardless of the operation issues, just imagine the impact the prime minister’s glib announcement yesterday would have on you if you were the victim of rape who has been languishing for years in our broken judicial system.

    “Just imagine the anger and disgust you would feel at the spectacle of a Conservative prime minister sacrificing your fight for justice on the altar of his desperate attempt to cling to power by appeasing his backbenchers. What an utterly shameful and shabby way for the prime minister of our country to behave.”

    Kinnock also claimed that the Rwanda plan “started off as Operation Save Big Dog”, an attempt to save Boris Johnson amid the Partygate Scandal, which “didn’t fade away once Johnson exited stage right”.

  • Jenrick says ministers had been advised they could not ignore injunctions from ECHR

    Robert Jenrick told MPs that the Attorney General had advised ministers they could not ignore injunctions from the European Court of Human Rights as the law currently stands.

    Speaking in favour of his amendments to the Bill, the Tory former immigration minister said it was “in theory at the discretion of a minister as to whether or not to comply with a Rule 39 interim measure” from the Strasbourg Court, which have been used to ground flights to Rwanda at the last moment.

    Jenrick added: “Belying that, was the Government legal advice that in its opinion, which I believe to be erroneous, it would be in breach of international law to do so.

    “The Attorney General and the Government legal service therefore, as far as I am aware, continue to advise ministers and civil servants that a decision not to support a Rule 39 interim measure would be illegal and would be in breach on the ministerial code.

    “In fact my best recollection of that was that no minister should give any indication that they would ignore a rule 39 interim measure. The Attorney General’s position as I understand it is that there is a very small number of cases in which it is conceivable that one could do so.

    “But that is a vanishingly slim number of cases and situations. So were that situation to continue, as night follows day we will find ourselves in exactly the same situation we were in in the summer of 2022.”

  • Jenrick says without amendment 'we will be here in two months' time'

    Robert Jenrick told the government he was “here to help” with his amendment aimed at safeguarding against Rule 39 orders.

    The Tory former immigration minister told MPs: “We have the power to fix this and we have the responsibility. So let’s use the opportunity we have today with the amendment that we have brought forward to resolve this.

    “Or else we will be here in two months’ time, the Strasbourg court will impose a Rule 39, the government will be scrambling around how to resolve this, and the government will have no-one else to blame.

    “I am here to help the government to ensure this policy works, because I like everyone, at least on this side of the House, believes passionately that we have to make this policy work and to stop the boats.

    “So I strongly encourage the prime minister to support the amendment in my name, and that of many others, and encourage everyone else on all sides of this House who share my determination to fix this problem to do exactly the same.”

  • Three quarters say the government's 'Stop the Boats' pledge has gone badly

    Almost three quarters (72%) of UK adults say the government's Stop the Boats pledge has gone badly, according to new polling from Savanta.

    Indeed, ahead of a vote on Rishi Sunak's flagship immigration policy later, just 18% of the public think that the government's pledge to Stop the Boats has gone well so far.

    Negative sentiment is even stronger among key parts of the government's core voter base, with three quarters of both 2019 Conservative voters (73%) and 2016 Leave voters (76%) feeling that the Stop the Boats pledge has gone badly. Their sentiment is shared by eight in ten (79%) 2019 Labour voters.

    To add insult to injury for the Conservatives, a third (34%) of the public say that Labour would be best placed to Stop the Boats, compared to just a quarter (26%) who feel Sunak's party would handle the issue the best.

  • Cameron 'confident' bill will pass

    Photo by: zz/KGC-254/STAR MAX/IPx 2024 1/14/24 Lord David Cameron - former Prime Minister of The United Kingdom and current Foreign Secretary - is seen on January 14, 2024 at the BBC Broadcasting House Studios in London, England, UK.
    Lord David Cameron said he was confident the bill would pass. (StarMax)

    Foreign secretary David Cameron said that he was “confident” the Rwanda Bill would pass at third reading in the Commons.

    Taking questions at the World Economic Forum in Davos, he admitted that Rishi Sunak’s flagship asylum policy was “unorthodox” but stressed the need for “out-of-the-box thinking” to tackle illegal migration.

    Lord Cameron said: “The Rwanda Bill will have its third reading tonight in Parliament. I’m confident it will be passed.”

    He told the audience: “Unless you’re prepared to do something that stops this trade in human beings… unless you’re prepared to do the innovative thinking, the out-of-the-box thinking, then you are a politician that has got nothing to say about solving this problem.

    “And I would say that what Rishi Sunak and what the Government is doing is yes, it’s quite unorthodox in some ways, but it’s necessary to do this out-of-the-box thinking to break the model of this appalling people-smuggling.”

  • Home Office shelves plans for more asylum seeker barges after Bibby Stockholm

    The Home Office has shelved plans to procure more barges to hold asylum seekers as the Bibby Stockholm has been beset by problems, delays and disputes.

    Ministers last year touted accommodation vessels as a way of cutting the cost of housing migrants in hotels, which has hit £8 million a day.

    But it is understood that efforts to secure new barges have been abandoned amid struggles to find ports willing to take them.

    Read more from The National.

  • Conservatives unleash attack ad following Sunak's comments to Starmer

    The Prime Minister’s press secretary was challenged over a tweet from the Conservatives which said: “Are you a terrorist in need of legal advice? Better call Keir.”The post on X also said: “When @RishiSunak sees a group chanting jihad on our streets, he bans them. Keir Starmer invoices them.”

    It was put to her that when the Labour leader provided legal advice to Hizb ut-Tahrir, the group was not designated a terror organisation in the UK.

    She replied: “No, but they clearly are now. And if you look back at the comments they were making at the time, they were pretty unsavoury.” She also said: “I don’t run the Conservative Twitter account.”

  • Jenrick urges MPs to 'find a way through' European judges challenging Rwanda plan

    Robert Jenrick, MP, Minister for Immigration. British politician Conservative Party, Downing Street, UK
    Robert Jenrick, MP, Minister for Immigration. British politician Conservative Party, Downing Street, UK

    Conservative former immigration minister Robert Jenrick urged MPs to “find a way through” the “entirely foreseeable” prospect of European judges challenging the Rwanda plan.

    He told the Commons: “What we’re discussing here is whether or not we believe it is appropriate for a foreign judge in an international court to impose a late night judgment, often without the United Kingdom being able to give its own arguments or to hear the reasons for that judgment, whether we think that really accords with the rule of law.

    “And, in particular in relation to this policy, whether we’re willing to see the same thing happen again that did in the summer of 2022 whereby a judge did just that, grounded the flight, prevented the policy, led to months, indeed years of legal action and tens of thousands of illegal migrants breaking into our country, costing our taxpayers billions of pounds, imperilling lives in the Channel and perpetuating this challenge for years to come.”

    Jenrick added: “I think as night follows day if we don’t make changes in this respect, we’ll find ourselves in a few months’ time in exactly the same position that (Priti Patel) as home secretary was in the summer of 2022, whereby the Strasbourg court will issue one, potentially many rule 39 interim measures, the decision will fall to a minister … about what to do, the courts will be involved and we’ll find ourselves in a very difficult, indeed intractable situation.

    “It is, as I’ve said before, a bit like pulling the pin out of a grenade but not being prepared to throw it. Setting this scheme in train without knowing what you would do when this happens – it’s entirely foreseeable, let’s find a way through this challenge.”

  • Downing Street doesn't deny Home Office has lost touch with 4,000 people intended for Rwanda

    Downing Street did not deny reports 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 told 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.”

    He said that process is “leading to thousands of people being removed each year”.

    The official added: “Again it points to the importance of ensuring individuals are not coming here illegally in the first place. And that’s why this Government has ensured that we have bucked the trend both in the UK and internationally and reduced crossings year-on-year by 36%.”

  • Sunak says nothing wrong with Rwanda but 'it is not the United Kingdom'

    Rishi Sunak has suggested any deterrent effect of threatening asylum seekers with deportation to Rwanda is not based on there being “anything wrong” with the country, but instead on it being an alternative to the United Kingdom.

    Speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions, SNP MP Patrick Grady (Glasgow North) said: “What exactly is it about the prospect of deportation to Rwanda that makes the Government think it will be such a deterrent to asylum seekers?

    “Does it think that life in Rwanda is somehow less comfortable, less secure, less safe, than it is here in the United Kingdom? What does the government think is wrong with Rwanda that means asylum seekers won’t want to live there?”

    The Prime minister said: “It’s not that there is anything wrong with it, it’s just that it is not the United Kingdom.”

    He added: “Deterrence works.”

  • SNP says Rwanda Bill is straight out of callous right-wing extremist playbook

    The Rwanda Bill seeks to weaponise some of the most vulnerable and is “straight out of the cruel and callous right-wing extremist playgroup”, the SNP has said.

    Speaking in the Commons, SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn said: “People woke up today in homes that they can’t afford to heat, with mortgages they’re struggling to pay, to news that inflation is once again on the rise. They have looked to Westminster for answers and instead they find a UK Government which is tearing itself apart over how quickly it can send vulnerable people on a plane to Rwanda.

    “Surely the prime minister must understand the anger that some of his own backbenchers have towards him is nothing in comparison to the anger that the public have towards his party?”

    Rishi Sunak replied: “If the honourable gentleman did care about supporting working families to pay their bills, to pay their mortgage, why on earth is the SNP making Scotland the highest-taxed part of the United Kingdom?”

    Flynn (Aberdeen South) went on to say: “If you want to stop the smuggling gangs, you should introduce safe and legal routes but instead the prime minister is seeking to weaponise some of the most vulnerable people in society. It is straight out of the cruel and callous right-wing extremist playgroup. His time in office is fast approaching its conclusion, does he seriously want this to be his legacy?”

    Sunak said: “It is important that we stop the boats because illegal migration is simply not fair, it’s not right that some people jump the queue, that they take away our resources to help those who … need our most help and, by the way, are exploited by gangs, and many of them lose their lives making these dangerous crossings.”

  • Sunak claims Starmer represented Hizb ut-Tahrir while working as a lawyer

    The Prime Minister claimed Sir Keir Starmer had represented Hizb ut-Tahrir while working as a lawyer, a group which the UK now plans to ban as a terror organisation.

    The Labour leader told the Commons: “He has been brutally exposed by his own MPs yet again. He has got one party chair who says she hopes the Lords will rip his Rwanda deal to pieces.

    “He’s got two more who had to quit because they don’t think it’ll work. All of them appointed by him, all now in open revolt against his policy, each other, and reality.

    “Is there any wonder they all think this gimmick is doomed to failure when the Prime Minister himself doesn’t believe in it?”

    Rishi Sunak replied: “It is rich to hear from him about belief in something … and it will be news to him, it is actually the case that you can believe in something and stick to that position on this side of the House.”

    After Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle urged both Labour and Tory MPs to stop shouting from the backbenches on an “important day”, Sunak continued: “Just this week we had another example of him doing one thing, saying another, because this week he backed the Home Secretary in banning the terrorist group Hizb ut-Tahrir, despite him personally using the European Court of Human Rights to try and stop them being banned.

    “Don’t take my word for it, the extremists’ own press release said ‘the Hizb ut-Tahrir legal team led by Keir Starmer’. I know he doesn’t like talking about them because they have been a client, but when I see a group chanting jihad on our streets, I ban them, he invoices them.”

  • Sunak told off for using prop at PMQs

    Prime Minister Rishi Sunak speaks during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, London. Picture date: Wednesday January 17, 2024.
    Rishi Sunak speaks during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons. (PA)

    Rishi Sunak was told off by Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle for using a prop at the despatch box during Prime Minister’s Questions.

    Sir Keir Starmer said Sunak had to be “talked out of scrapping” the Rwanda plan, adding: “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 replied: “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 highlighted lawyers who are backing the government’s Rwanda plan, adding to Sir Keir: “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 intervened 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.”

  • Sunak refuses to say whether 4,000 people earmarked to be sent to Rwanda have been 'found'

    The prime minister would not say when challenged whether the government has “found” more than 4,000 people it was said to have earmarked for removal to Rwanda.

    Speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said: “The government has been forced to admit that it has lost contact with 85% of the 5,000 people earmarked for removal to Rwanda. Has he found them yet?”

    Rishi Sunak said: “What I can tell (Sir Keir) is that in spite of him blocking every single attempt that we have taken we have managed now because of our actions to reduce the number of people coming here by over a third last year, remove over 20,000 people from this country back to their home countries, carried out 70% more illegal enforcement raids, arrested hundreds of people, closed down thousands of bank accounts and processed over 100,000 cases, the biggest number in over 20 years.

    “That’s because on this side of the House we want to stop the boats, we have a plan, it’s working, and with him we would just go back to square one.”

  • When is the Rwanda bill vote? Rishi Sunak faces Tory rebellion in Commons

    Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak leaves 10 Downing Street to attend the weekly Prime Ministers' Questions session in parliament in London, Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
    Rishi Sunak faces a crucial vote on his Rwanda Bill this evening. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

    Rishi Sunak faces considerable setbacks after two senior Tory resignations amid a right-wing revolt over the Safety of Rwanda Bill.

    Deputy chairs Lee Anderson and Brendan Clarke-Smith were among 60 MPs pushing amendments to the controversial Rwanda deportation bill this week.

    Just before a round of votes on Tuesday evening, Anderson and Clarke-Smith confirmed their departures over the bill. Junior Government aide Jane Stevenson then became the third resignation.

    Read the full story from the Evening Standard.

  • Minister rejects claim of deep split in Tory party over Rwanda policy

    The illegal migration minister has rejected suggestions of a deepened split within the Conservative party over the prime minister’s Rwanda bill, saying “there’s a difference of about an inch” between MPs.

    On Tuesday night, Rishi Sunak faced the biggest rebellion of his leadership after two deputy chairs – Lee Anderson and Brendan Clake-Smith – resigned along with Jane Stevenson, who was Kemi Badenoch’s parliamentary private secretary, by backing rightwing challenges for the prime minister to toughen up his bill.

    Read the full story from The Guardian.

  • OPINION - Analysis: Who governs Britain...Rishi Sunak or Tory Rightwingers? We'll know by the end of the day

    Who governs Britain? Is it Rishi Sunak’s government or a group of Tory Righwingers led by Mark Francois, Lee Anderson, Miriam Cates and Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg. We’ll know by the end of the day, writes Nicholas Cecil for the Evening Standard.

    But for Sunak it has to be him if he is to walk away from the latest Tory psychodrama with salvageable authority.

    The threat by some Tory rebels to side with Labour to kill off his Rwanda Bill, or force him to withdraw it, raised the prospect of Sunak’s premiership being potentially plunged into its most perilous crisis.

    Read the full story from the Evening Standard.

  • MPs will go in 'opposite lobby' if Rwanda Bill unamended, says Gullis

    MP's will abstain or vote against the Rwanda Bill if it is unamended, says MP Jonathan Gullis.

  • Tory Rwanda rebels hold Rishi Sunak’s fate in their hands

    Former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson exits the UK COVID-19 inquiry on the second day of questioning to examine the response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic before the country's second national lockdown in November 2020, in London, Britain December 7, 2023. REUTERS/Maja Smiejkowska
    Former prime minister Boris Johnson is among those who backs amendments to the bill. (Reuters)

    Rishi Sunak faces his biggest personal crisis as Prime Minister in the House of Commons tonight as he bids to save his flagship Rwanda policy.

    A group of 60 Right wing Tory MPs, backed by former prime minister Boris Johnson, are threatening to vote down the Rwanda legislation, claiming it is not tough enough.

    If 33 of the rebels carry out their threat, Sunak will be defeated - with devastating consequences.

    Read the full story from The Independent.

  • Tomlinson pressed on whether civil servants would be told to ignore judges

    Illegal migration minister Michael Tomlinson was pressed on whether the change to the Civil Service code would essentially tell officials to advise ministers to ignore judges.

    He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “My expectation is that there will be further confirmation that it will be for ministers to decide and then, once those decisions are made, they will be carried out … by our excellent and efficient civil servants.

    “And that’s exactly what you would expect.”

  • Rwanda flights must be regular to avoid looking like gimmick, says Tory MP

    Deportation flights to Rwanda must take off regularly or the public will view the scheme as a “gimmick”, a Tory MP considering rebelling on the legislation has said.

    Jonathan Gullis told LBC: “Everyone agrees in the Conservative Party that we must get Rwanda done because it will be a good deterrent factor for people who choose to put thousands of pounds in the hands of smuggling gangs.

    “What we need to do is have it as a sustainable deterrent. That means having regular flights with lots of people on board, otherwise people will just see it as a gimmick, the voters will see it as a gimmick.

    “We will have tried a third piece of legislation in three years and, if it fails, it will be three strikes and you’re out.”

  • Sunak faces crunch vote as Rwanda plan dealt fresh blow by senior resignations

    The fate of Rishi Sunak’s Rwanda plan is in the balance as a crunch vote looms after two Tory deputy chairmen resigned to join the biggest Conservative rebellion of his leadership.

    The Prime Minister is battling to see off another major revolt on Wednesday as MPs decide whether to back legislation aimed at saving the Government’s flagship asylum policy.

    Some 60 Conservatives supported changes to the Safety of Rwanda Bill put forward by Tory veteran Sir Bill Cash, in a sign of the scale of unease within the party during an election year.

    Read the full story from PA.

  • Tories do not fundamentally disagree, says Tomlinson

    Illegal migration minister Michael Tomlinson has rejected any suggestion of fundamental disagreements between Tory MPs, insisting there is only an “inch” between party colleagues.

    Speaking to BBC Breakfast after Tuesday’s rebellion over Rwanda, he said: “My job, both through the course of the day and this evening, will be both at the despatch box and when speaking to colleagues to seek to persuade them that even if there are minor differences in emphasis, minor differences in where the emphasis should be, there is a fundamental singleness of determination to ensure that this policy works, and that’s my job, both in conversations with colleagues and also in the chamber.

    “But I know why my colleagues are concerned. I’m a former deputy chairman of the ERG (European Research Group).

    “I understand their concerns and that’s why those conversations will continue throughout the course of the day.”

    Put to him that Tory MPs fundamentally disagree, he rejected that.

    “They don’t fundamentally disagree. There are disagreements of emphasis. There’s an inch between us, there’s a determination to ensure that the policy works.”

  • Sunak will be speaking to rebels throughout the day

    British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak attends a security accord signing ceremony, during a visit to Presidential Palace, in Kyiv, Ukraine, January 12, 2024. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
    Rishi Sunak would tell rebels 'we all want the same thing', said Michael Tomlinson. (Reuters)

    Illegal migration minister Michael Tomlinson said the Prime Minister’s message to Tory rebels would be “we all want the same thing”.

    The minister told LBC that Rishi Sunak would be involved in talks with Tory MPs over the course of Wednesday.

    “There’ll be conversations throughout the parliamentary party, I’m sure, during the course of the day. I will be having my conversations, we will be having those debates and, yes, the Prime Minister absolutely will be involved in that,” he said.

    “His message and my message is a united one, that actually we all want the same thing.

    “When we go through the detail of the legislation, yes, there is a difference in emphasis … but in terms of the overall message, the overall desire and aim, every single Conservative speaker yesterday stood up and said that they want this policy to work.”

  • Rishi Sunak faces battle to save Rwanda Bill as top Tories quit and he is hit by major rebellion

    Rishi Sunak will battle to save his flagship Rwanda Bill on Wednesday after two senior Tory MPs resigned to form part of a major rebellion.

    Lee Anderson and Brendan Clarke-Smith dramatically quit as Conservative Party deputy chairmen on Tuesday night.

    They were among 60 right wing Conservative MPs to back controversial amendments to the legislation in a significant blow to the Prime Minister's authority.

    Read the full story from The Evening Standard.

  • Tory rebel says he will base his decision on debate

    Tory rebel Sir John Hayes said he would listen to Wednesday’s debate and the government before deciding how to vote on the Rwanda Bill.

    The Conservative former minister told the PA news agency about the rebellion: “The numbers speak for themselves. It was a really impressive number.”

    He added: “I think we got a very significant proportion of the backbenchers.”

    Asked if he would vote against the government, he said: “We’ve got another day’s debate tomorrow, haven’t we – so let’s listen to that debate and deal with things as they occur rather than before they occur.

    “So we will see what the government says tomorrow and, as I say, the numbers speak for themselves.”

    He said there is a “line of communication” with the government and the whips and there has been “no acrimony and so our door is always open”.

  • Rebellion has not damaged Sunak, says Rees-Mogg

    Conservative former cabinet minister Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg said the rebellion has not damaged Rishi Sunak’s position as leader.

    Asked by the PA news agency what the size of the rebellion says about Rishi Sunak’s leadership, Sir Jacob said the party is a “democracy” and “coalition of views”, adding: “All party leaders have to deal with that in their own way and Rishi Sunak does that in a courteous and intelligent way.”

    Asked if the rebellion has damaged the Prime Minister’s position as leader, Sir Jacob said: “Not this particular discussion, no.”