Sunak sends officials to Rwanda to support deportations, as party revolt builds

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London: British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will station Home Office officials in Rwanda as he tries to see off an escalating Conservative Party rebellion over his small boats policy.

The prime minister is expected to unveil a new treaty with Rwanda this week in response to a court ruling that the scheme to deport illegal migrants to the country is unlawful.

The immigration issue has led to British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak losing the confidence of his party’s right.Credit: Getty

The decision to deploy British officials to support the African nation’s asylum system will be seen as vindication for Suella Braverman, the recently deposed home secretary, who pressed for the move while in government.

It comes as Conservative MPs on the party’s right warned their leader that he is facing electoral “catastrophe” – including the Tories being reduced to a “rump” of 60 seats – if the prime minister fails to tackle illegal migration.

One backbencher said they believed “dozens” of letters of no confidence in Sunak had already been submitted to the 1922 Committee of Tory MPs.

A senior government source said preparations were under way to “step up Home Office people who will be doing training and assisting with case working in Rwanda, so that their system is as robust as possible”.

The source said that the Supreme Court ruling would also be addressed by a legally binding treaty commitment from Rwanda that it will not deport any migrants under the scheme to third countries, which was one of the chief concerns raised by the judges.

They said the judges had not been able to take into account further progress in Rwanda’s asylum system that had been achieved since the legal action started.

A second government source pointed out that some Home Office officials were already on the ground in Rwanda working on the new treaty.

Home Secretary James Cleverly said ministers were prepared for the Supreme Court ruling.

“We have been working on a new treaty with Rwanda, which will be ratified without delay,” he said. “It will guarantee in law that those who are relocated from the UK to Rwanda will be protected against removal from Rwanda.”

Migrants are brought ashore after being picked up in the English Channel by a Border Force vessel last week.Credit: Getty

The Home Secretary said that illegal migration was “immoral” as well as “unfair”, and claimed the Rwanda scheme was not a waste of time or money because it is already having a deterrent effect on would-be migrants.

However, Sunak is facing mounting criticism from Tory MPs that his policy does not go far enough.

Critics want Sunak to toughen his bill through the insertion of “notwithstanding” clauses that would disapply the Human Rights Act, the European Convention on Human Rights and other international agreements – an approach advocated by Braverman.

Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick has met with concerned MPs and is understood to be pushing for a more expansive approach to the bill.

The veteran MP Sir Bill Cash said: “If you don’t deal with the problems of the judgment comprehensively and use clear and unambiguous language in the emergency legislation, then we are going to be drawn into another problem with the courts.”

If the government does not voluntarily strengthen the legislation it is believed that upwards of 40 MPs could rebel.

A Tory MP said: “If they bring forward legislation which doesn’t pass muster, like-minded people will try to amend it to make it stronger… I don’t think they comprehend the gravity of the disillusionment.”

The prime minister’s response to the Supreme Court defeat has increased the rancour in the parliamentary party, with some MPs suggesting that Sunak could even face a leadership challenge.

A former cabinet minister said: “The response some people are giving is that we are facing a catastrophe and how much worse can it be?

“People are weighing up whether changing our leader could make things any worse than it currently is.”

An MP on the party’s right said: “Anybody who has a brain knows that he cannot remain in place.”

They said Sunak was “Theresa May in trousers” and that he would take the party to a “rump” of “60 seats, 70 if we’re lucky”.

Another MP said they “wouldn’t be surprised if there were another challenge”, while a third said: “I think it’s worth the chance.”

The Telegraph, London

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