Rwanda: No10 urges Tories to 'get behind this Bill' ahead of crunch vote

Number 10 urged MPs to "get behind this Bill" after the biggest rebellion of Mr Sunak's leadership over the legislation on Tuesday night, ITV News Political Correspondent Romilly Weeks reports

Rishi Sunak's Rwanda plan is on a knife-edge as a debate on the Bill gets underway before a crunch vote on Wednesday evening.

The prime minister wants to deport migrants to Rwanda in order to deter more people from crossing the channel in small boats, but the policy has been repeatedly stuck in the courts.

Mr Sunak introduced emergency legislation called the Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill after the highest court in the UK ruled that his Rwanda plan was unlawful.

On Wednesday, Number 10 urged MPs to "get behind this Bill" after the biggest rebellion of Mr Sunak's leadership over the legislation on Tuesday night.

Tories in 'open revolt against each other and reality', Sir Keir Starmer says

The prime minister's record on immigration was criticised by Sir Keir Starmer at Prime Minister's Questions. Sir Keir described the Rwanda policy as a "gimmick", and said the Tory party is "in open revolt against his policy, each other, and reality."

When questioned by Sir Keir four times about 4,250 asylum seekers earrmarked for removal to Rwanda who have allegedly been "lost" by the government, Rishi Sunak failed to give an answer.

Downing Street did not deny the reports of lost migrants. Asked why Mr Sunak was unable to answer a question about it at PMQs, his official spokesperson 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."

Mr Sunak insisted the Rwanda plan is leading to fewer people crossing the channel, and that Mr Starmer "doesn't actually care about solving this problem".

Stephen Flynn, the Westminster Leader of the SNP accused the prime minister of "weaponising some of the most vulnerable people in society".

Rwanda plan hangs in the balance as MPs debate immigration policy

Right wing Tories want the Rwanda Bill to toughened up, as they fear it risks too many legal appeals from individual migrants in its current form.

But the prime minister has to balance their demands against those in the centre of the party, who fear the current Bill risks breaching international law.

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Robert Jenrick, who quit as immigration minister over the Rwanda Bill, has put forward an amendment aimed at blocking last-minute injunctions from European judges, called rule 39 orders.

Mr Jenrick questioned whether it's "appropriate for a foreign judge in an international court to impose a late night judgement, often without the United Kingdom being able to give its own arguments."

Suella Braverman, who was sacked as home secretary in November described Wednesday's vote as the "last chance to fix the problem" of illegal migration.

But former justice secretary Robert Buckland warned rebels to "tread carefully", insisting that the Bill risks creating "internal constitutional and legal problems of our own."

Labour's Shadow Immigration Minister Stephen Kinnock expressed his frustration with the "Rwanda psychodrama that the Conservative Party continues to inflict on our weary and baffled nation."

The crunch vote comes after senior red-wall MPs Lee Anderson and Brendan Clarke-Smith resigned from their party positions to vote in favour of changes tabled by Mr Cash and former immigration minister Robert Jenrick.

Speaking to ITV News, Lee Anderson said: "I resigned on a matter of principal, I didn't think I could carry on in that role because the Bill... doesn't quite tick all the boxes for me at the moment."

Jane Stevenson also quit her role as a parliamentary private secretary in the Department for Business and Trade to back the amendments, which MPs on the Tory right say will help protect the Rwanda plan from further legal challenge.

Former prime minister Liz Truss, former ministers Suella Braverman and Sir Simon Clarke and former leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith were also among those to support the changes.

Can the Rwanda plan survive?

Unlike in the voting on Tuesday night, Labour MPs are set to vote against the Bill at its final Commons hurdle on Wednesday, which means it would take only 33 Tory MPs rebelling to sink the legislation.

It's been reported that between 12 and 30 Tory MPs could vote against the Bill.

However, if the government accepts the amendments proposed on Wednesday, the crunch vote will be avoided.

Mr Sunak could even pull the whole vote entirely if he thinks defeat is likely.

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