Rwanda Bill passes as only 11 Tory MPs rebel

Rwanda Bill passes as only 11 Tory MPs rebel

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Rishi Sunak secured victory on Wednesday as his flagship Rwanda Bill passed the House of Commons after just 11 Tory MPs rebelled by voting against it.

In a boost for Downing Street, the legislation cleared its final stage in the Commons as MPs voted by 320 to 276 to send it on to the Lords.

Under pressure from the Tory whips, the vast majority of Tory MPs ended up accepting No 10’s argument that it was better to vote through the Bill with misgivings rather than kill it off.

The victory eases pressure on Mr Sunak and is a blow for his staunchest Tory critics who had been plotting to raise questions about his leadership if the legislation had been defeated in its entirety.

However, many hurdles remain before Mr Sunak can achieve the Bill’s ultimate goal of getting deportation flights carrying asylum seekers to Rwanda off the ground by the spring.

On Tuesday night 60 Tory MPs including nine former Cabinet ministers had rebelled by backing amendments to harden the Bill but by Wednesday evening just a fraction of those were willing to go a step further and block the legislation.

A No 10 spokesman said: “The passing of the Bill tonight marks a major step in our plan to stop the boats. This is the toughest legislation ever introduced in Parliament to tackle illegal migration and will make clear that if you come here illegally you will not be able to stay.

“It is this Government and the Conservative Party who have got boat crossings down by more than a third. We have a plan, we have made progress and this landmark legislation will ensure we get flights off to Rwanda, deter people from making perilous journeys across the channel and stop the boats.”

The Bill will only become law if it also passes the House of Lords with peers expected to attempt to water down its tough approach on migrants’ rights through amendments – though MPs would have to approve any changes.

Mr Sunak is expected to address the country on Thursday morning – and issue a direct call to peers not to meddle with a Bill that has now been backed by elected MPs.

However, even when the law comes into force, further delays to Rwanda flights could come from legal challenges by individual migrants. Tory rebels have warned that the failure to toughen up the legislation is likely to see just a handful of migrants deported this year.

Rwanda’s president Paul Kagame on Wednesday offered to repay millions of pounds that his country has received if Britain was unable to deport any asylum seekers to them. He also warned there were limits on how long attempts to implement an asylum deal with Britain could “drag on”.

Tory rebels signalled in the Commons that the next big battle will be over the UK’s membership of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).




Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the Speaker, announces the result of the vote on the Rwanda Bill

On Wednesday night 61 rebels including nine former Cabinet ministers backed an amendment that would have required ministers to ignore any attempt by judges from the European Court of Human Rights to injunct deportation flights, as happened with the first to Rwanda in June 2022.

Backing the amendment, Suella Braverman, the former home secretary, said the small boats crisis was a question of “who governs Britain”, as she warned MPs the public would not forgive them if they did not get it right.

She savaged the ECHR, describing it as a “foreign court” which did not share our values and was putting the UK’s national security at risk. “This is our last chance to fix this problem. We have stretched the patience of the British people,” she told MPs.

“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…

“Or is it an opaque forum, 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?”

Robert Jenrick, the former immigration minister, said Britain’s membership of the ECHR was not sustainable. “I don’t believe that our membership of the ECHR is sustainable. I think that will become clearer and clearer to the British public in the months and the years ahead,” he said.




The House of Commons as the vote on the Rwanda Bill is about to be announced

On Wednesday on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Lord Cameron was asked whether the fiasco over the Rwanda Bill had hurt Britain’s reputation on the world stage.

He insisted illegal migration posed the same challenges to all western countries and claimed critics on the Labour benches had “nothing to say” about the problem.

He also said the Conservatives were not facing a 1997-style election defeat despite a major poll published in the Telegraph triggering fears of a wipe-out.

On Wednesday civil service unions threatened to fight plans by ministers to order officials to ignore Strasbourg court rulings blocking deportation flights.

The Cabinet Office published draft guidance telling civil servants it was “their responsibility” to implement any decision by ministers to ignore Rule 39 orders, one of which was used by the Strasbourg court to block the first deportation flight to Rwanda in June 2022.

The move was designed to reassure rebel Tory MPs that powers in the Rwanda Bill for ministers to ignore the orders will be enacted. Rishi Sunak has pledged he will not allow any foreign court to block the flights despite warnings that the Government’s own internal legal advice says to do so would breach international law.

Dave Penman, general secretary of the First Division Association, said it was “madness” to tell civil servants to break the law. “They’re essentially advising civil servants to act illegally, which will put them in conflict between their obligation to uphold the rule of law and to follow their instructions from elected ministers,” he said.

A senior Tory rebel source said it was a “distraction tactic”. “It’s a put-up job to say ‘Look over there!’ and blame the civil servants. The courts are the ones who block the flights and the Attorney General’s advice alongside [Treasury counsel] is clear – you can’t ignore Strasbourg’s Rule 39s, in all but exceptional and irrelevant circumstances, without breaching international law. We need to legislate to sort the problem.”

No asylum seekers have yet been sent to Rwanda, which has so far received £240 million from the UK as part of an economic and development deal between the two countries under which migrants will be deported to claim asylum in the African state.

Asked about the deal at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Mr Kagame said: “It’s only going to be used if those people will come… If they don’t come, we can return the money.”

Yolande Makolo, the Rwandan government spokeswoman, later played down the scale of any payback, saying the country had “no obligation” to return any of the funds paid but if the UK requests a refund “we will consider this.”



That’s all for tonight…

Thank you for joining The Telegraph’s live coverage of a dramatic day in Westminster as a much-vaunted Tory rebellion failed to materialise.

Rishi Sunak’s Rwanda Bill cleared the Commons as only 11 of his own MPs opposed the legislation.

My colleague Jack Maidment, The Telegraph’s brilliant Live Blog Editor, will be back early tomorrow to guide you through all the fallout – and what happens next.



Lee Anderson: Labour’s laughter meant I couldn’t vote against Rwanda Bill

Lee Anderson said he backed out of voting against the Rwanda Bill after he was laughed at by Labour MPs.

Mr Anderson told GB News he went into the ‘no’ lobby but opposition MPs were sniggering at him and saying “he’s coming back to Labour”, prompting him to abstain.



The 11 Tory MPs who rebelled against Rwanda

  • Suella Braverman
  • Sir Bill Cash
  • Miriam Cates
  • Sir Simon Clarke
  • Sarah Dines
  • Sir James Duddridge
  • Mark Francois
  • Dame Andrea Jenkyns
  • Robert Jenrick
  • David Jones
  • Danny Kruger



Brendan Clarke-Smith backs Rwanda Bill

Brendan Clarke-Smith, who quit as the deputy Tory chairman last night to rebel over the Rwanda Bill, voted for the Rwanda Bill tonight.

No vote was recorded for Lee Anderson, who also resigned from the same role.



Lib Dems: This is no victory for Rishi Sunak

The Liberal Democrats have said the passage of the Rwanda Bill “is no victory for Rishi Sunak”.

Alistair Carmichael, the party’s home affairs spokesman, said: “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.”



Analysis: Victory for Rishi Sunak after bruising couple of days

Rishi Sunak and Downing Street will be both delighted and quietly relieved that the Rwanda Bill has sailed through the Commons tonight.

The Prime Minister has not emerged completely unscathed, having lost two deputy Conservative Party chairmen and a ministerial aide from the Government payroll.

More than 60 Tory MPs defied Mr Sunak to back rebel amendments in a sign that dozens of his own backbenchers are nowhere near as convinced as he is that the new Rwanda law will stop the boats.

But while his authority has been weakened in the past 48 hours, and the next hurdle will be the House of Lords, a majority of 44 has ensured that No 10’s ambition of deportation flights by the spring is still very much alive into the year of the next general election.



Rwanda Bill passes as Tory rebellion fizzles out

The Rwanda Bill has cleared the commons in a victory for Rishi Sunak as a much-vaunted Tory rebellion fizzled out.

The Bill was supported by 320 MPs, while 276 voted against it.



MPs have finished voting…

… and we will have the result in a few minutes’ time.



Tim Stanley: MPs finally find something they can agree on in Rwanda debate – they’re wasting our time

One thing MPs can agree on is that they’re wasting our time. Labour’s opposition to the Rwanda bill, said the PM, will put us “back to square one”, writes Tim Stanley.

The rebel amendments to the bill, said Labour, are pure “psychodrama”. But if they fail to pass, warned Rob Jenrick, lawyers will kill the bill again.

“We’ve kicked the can down the road,” said the king of mixed metaphors. “There’s no more road, there’s a precipice at the end of the road.” He could’ve been talking about MY road. The potholes are horrific.

The public would probably have more confidence in the Rwanda plan if instead of deporting the asylum seekers, we deported their lawyers – that strange breed who revel in objections and roadblocks, and the sound of their own voice.

The afternoon’s amendment debate was so incomprehensible, it could have been conducted in Latin. Half of Joanna Cherry’s speech was.

Tim Stanley: MPs covered legal history, zen philosophy and even some politics



Division! MPs vote on Rwanda Bill

It’s finally time – MPs are voting on the Rwanda Bill, which has not been amended, at its third reading.

We can expect the result in 15 minutes or so.



Jeremy Corbyn condemns ‘appalling’ Rwanda Bill

Jeremy Corbyn, a former Labour leader, said the Rwanda Bill was “an appalling piece of legislation”.

“It fails to take any account of the human suffering of people that are forced through lack of any other alternative to try and make a very dangerous crossing across the channel,” Mr Corbyn said.

He said it would adversely affect “victims of war, human rights abuse, poverty and so much else”.



Jess Phillips: Government ‘wasting taxpayers’ money’ over Rwanda

Jess Phillips, a prominent Labour backbencher, accused the Government of “wasting taxpayers’ money” on the Rwanda Bill.

He said Tory MPs should be “ashamed of themselves for voting for something when they have no idea how much it will cost people in their constituencies”.



Danny Kruger: I don’t think it’ll work, we could have done better

Danny Kruger, the co-chairman of the New Conservatives, said the Rwanda Bill in its current form denied “common sense”.

“We believe that statutes passed in this place have supremacy over judge-made law, and certainly over the jurisdiction.

“The Bill as it stands still allows lawyers to use foreign international law to override the supremacy of Parliament and I deeply regret this. We could have got a better bill through in Parliament… I regret that we’re not doing that.

“My view, as I said at the outset, I don’t think it’ll work. We could have done better.”



Therese Coffey: Lords must listen to elected House

Therese Coffey has urged her Tory MP colleagues to vote for the Rwanda Bill.

Ms Coffey, a former deputy prime minister, said: “This Conservative Government cares, I know that every Conservative MP cares and we need to make sure that the Lords listen to the elected House.”



Sir Bill Cash to vote against Rwanda Bill

Sir Bill Cash confirmed he will vote against the Rwanda Bill this evening.

“I want this Bill to succeed and the sole reason that 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 believe we’ve done whatever it takes.

“I am deeply worried, and this is my main concern, that there will be another claim which comes as a result of this. I don’t think anybody expects anything else. And when it does happen it will go to the Supreme Court.

“And when it goes to the Supreme Court the question in front of that Supreme Court is going to be very, very simple.”



Yvette Cooper: This is a third failed Rwanda agreement

Yvette Cooper said Britain “needs Labour’s plan” on immigration as he rubbished the Rwanda plan.

“The Home Secretary is just wondering 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.”

Ms Cooper said James Cleverly “probably agrees with us about the failings of the policy he is trying to defend today”.

“We need stronger border security and a properly controlled and managed asylum system so the UK does its bit to help those fleeing persecution and conflict, and those who have no right to be here to be returned.”

She added: “Every time they bring forward a new law, it makes things worse… Forgive us for not believing a word the Government says and voting against a third failing Bill today.”



James Cleverly: Stick with our plan and stop the boats

James Cleverly said: “While our party sits only a short physical distance from the parties opposite, the gulf between our aspiration to control our borders and their blase, laissez-faire attitude to border control could not be more stark.

“Stopping the boats is not just a question of policy, it is a question of morality, and it is a question of fairness. And it is this Government, this party, the Conservative Party, that is the only party in this House taking this issue as seriously as it should.

“I urge this House to stick with our plan and stop the boats.”



James Cleverly touts Albania returns agreement as proof Rwanda Bill will work

James Cleverly, the Home Secretary, told MPs: “The Bill is key to stopping the boats once and for all and to reassure some of the people who have approached me with concerns, I would remind them that Albanians previously made around a third of small boat arrivals.

“But through working closely and intensively with Albania and their government, more than 5,000 with no right to be here have been returned, and the deterrent was powerful enough to drive down arrivals by Albania by over 90 per cent.

“This legislation once passed will go even further and be even stronger than the legislation that underpins Albania.”



Cleverly: Rwanda Bill will completely stop the boats

James Cleverly, the Home Secretary, said the Rwanda Bill would help to “completely stop [the boats] for good”.

Mr Cleverly said the new deal with Rwanda “responds directly” to the Supreme Court ruling in November.

“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.

“People will not be able to use our asylum laws, human rights laws or judicial reviews to block their legitimate removal and the default will be for claims to be heard outside this country.”

Asked whether the Bill would breach international law, he said: “As drafted, as we intend this Bill to progress, it will be in complete compliance with international law.”



Frontbencher who quit over Rwanda Bill will back Rwanda Bill

Jane Stevenson, who quit the Government last night to back rebel amendments to the Rwanda Bill, confirms she will vote for the unamended Rwanda Bill.

“It was unfortunate to have to resign but that’s the deal if you want to speak out on certain lines,” she told GB News.

“I’ve done so much work on illegal migration, it is really important to my constituents. So I wanted a tougher bill.”

But asked whether she would support the legislation tonight, she replied: “Yes, I will because then we have no bill.

“So, I think that’s what I want to focus on. If you listen to my comments in the chamber, it’s about a bigger framework. Rwanda is not the whole answer to this.



Richard Tice: ‘No surprise’ rebels have backed down

Richard Tice, the leader of Reform UK, told The Telegraph it was “no surprise” that Tory rebels had backed down over the Rwanda Bill.

“This is just a waste of time and noise to suit their own internal divisions,” Mr Tice said.

“No one will ever be deported and it is not a deterrent.”



‘Tory splits could turn a 1997-style defeat into a total electoral wipeout’

History repeats itself, said Marx, first as tragedy then as farce. We are well into the farce stage with the Conservative Party, writes Philip Johnston.

The parallels with 1997, the last time Labour was considered a serious prospect for office after many years of Conservative rule, are inescapable. The poll in this newspaper on Monday was an almost exact replica of those we saw in the run-up to Tony Blair’s landslide victory. 

It differed in its granular ability to model possible results in particular constituencies, factor in boundary changes, and conclude that the Tories are on course to lose close to 200 seats. That would be worse than 1997. In fact, you have to go back to 1906, when the Conservatives lost 246 seats, for anything approaching such an electoral cataclysm. 

Philip Johnston: Divided parties do worse than they would otherwise



Truss and Anderson among 61 Tory rebels

A total of 61 Conservative MPs backed Robert Jenrick’s amendment this evening in defiance of Rishi Sunak.

These included Miriam Cates and Danny Kruger, the leaders of the New Conservatives, Lee Anderson and Brendan Clarke-Smith, both of whom quit as deputy Tory Party chairmen over the Rwanda Bill on Tuesday night, and Liz Truss, a former prime minister.



Farage hits out at Tory ‘psychodrama’

Nigel Farage has condemned Tory “psychodrama” as he questioned whether the Rwanda scheme would work without leaving the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

Speaking on his GB News programme, Mr Farage said: “What annoys me is they put us through this for 600 days – 600 days, hundreds of millions of pounds, not a single person has gone to Rwanda.

“Frankly this is a charade, all we get is the divisions in the Conservative Party played out in front of us as some sort of psychodrama… I think they’re a pretty hopeless bunch.”

He added: “I’m not sure that any of [this] would stand legal challenge given our international obligations, and I think that’s what needs to be sorted out before we have any hope of dealing with this problem.

“As I’ve said many times before, this is the Brexit debate 2.0. This really is the Brexit debate all over again, and really in the House of Commons there are really very, very few MPs that support what is now a view in this country held by at least 45 per cent of people, maybe even higher than that.”



Jenrick amendment fails despite backing of 65 MPs

Amendment 23, tabled by former immigration minister Robert Jenrick, has been rejected by MPs.

Sixty-five MPs voted in favour of Mr Jenrick’s amendment, which was aimed at blocking last-minute injunctions from European judges, while 536 voted against.

We should have a breakdown in the next half hour of the Tory MPs who defied Rishi Sunak to back the proposed changes.



MPs vote on former immigration minister’s amendment

MPs are now voting on Amendment 23 to the Rwanda Bill.

It has been tabled by Robert Jenrick, the former immigration minister who quit Rishi Sunak’s government over his plans, and seeks to block last-minute injunctions from European judges.



Breaking: Clause 3 stays in Rwanda Bill

Clause 3 has remained in the Rwanda Bill as the Ayes outnumbered the Noes by more than 100.



Immigration minister: I have had ‘very frank’ talks with Robert Jenrick

Michael Tomlinson, the illegal immigration minister, said he had held “very frank” conversations with his predecessor Robert Jenrick about the Rwanda Bill.

Mr Tomlinson mounted a staunch defence of the Bill in his closing remarks.



Illegal migration minister: We are not legislating away our international obligations

Michael Tomlinson, the minister for illegal immigration, said the Rwanda Bill debate had been “broadly thoughtful and instructive” as he wrapped up two days of parliamentary time discussing the legislation.

Mr Tomlinson said the Bill did not “legislate away” the UK’s international obligations, and that Parliament believes those obligations had been met.

“It does not mean that we do not care whether or not they have been met.”



Breaking: Rwanda Bill set to pass as only a handful of MPs set to rebel

Tory rebel source: “Everybody in the room is deeply upset with the way the Government has handled matters. In particular, the way in which negotiations have been strung along and let down at the final minute. The majority of those people who spoke in the room have decided to back the Bill at third reading. A small number of colleagues will vote ‘no’ on a point of principle.

”The overwhelming likelihood is that the Bill will probably pass quite comfortably this evening. There were 45 people in the room. The Right has much expanded.

”Many colleagues in the room deprecated the state of the parliamentary party and the feeling was that so many colleagues were out of touch with where the public was, that the Government was so slanted in the direction of one particular faction, but this is as good as the outcome was going to get.”



Breaking: Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg to vote for Rwanda Bill

Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg will back the Rwanda Bill this evening despite supporting two rebel amendments last night.

Sir Jacob’s decision was confirmed by GB News, on which the former business secretary is a presenter.



Tory backbencher: Pass Rwanda Bill or there will be no-one left to challenge woke

Bob Seely said he was “sympathetic” towards rebel amendments but would not be supporting them.

“To work on the basis that we on this side of the House are not going to trust our own Government on this and give them zero credit is going way too far in the other direction,” Mr Seely said.

“There are four outcomes for today… Firstly, that this Bill works in a wonderful way and everything is perfect. Do I think that’s likely? Well I hope it is, I live in hope.

“Option two is that some of the legal appeals work, some of the legal appeals don’t work, but we begin to get the planes moving, sort of, this summer. It’s a reasonable success, we are heading in the right direction with other measures.

“Option three is that it doesn’t work, we get some brownie points for trying but it’s a bad outcome. Option four, we vote down the bill today, there are no flights at all, the Left are in clover, the liberal elite will be smiling all the way to the next election, there will be 100 colleagues on this side on the House return and there will be nobody to challenge woke, there will be nobody to challenge large-scale illegal immigration whatsoever.”



‘Any chinks in the armour of a bill to tackle this issue will be ruthlessly exploited’

Tom Hunt, the Conservative MP for Ipswich, said he would “enthusiastically” support amendments to the Rwanda Bill.

“Immigration at unsustainable levels without integration presents intolerable troubles for the people of this country,” Mr Hunt said.

“I applaud the Prime Minister’s desire to stop the boats, of course I do, but it’s not enough just to try. It’s not enough to be 80 or 90 per cent of the way there, we need to be 100 per cent of the way there.

“Any chinks in the armour of a bill to tackle this issue will be ruthlessly exploited.”

Mr Hunt added that immigration had become an “existential” issue.



‘The only thing shocking about a 1997-style wipeout is that Sunak might keep 169 seats’

AYouGov poll splashed across Monday’s front page foresees a shocking electoral wipeout for the Conservatives on the scale of their 1997 defeat by Labour, writes Allison Pearson.

But were you shocked when you saw it? Is anyone really shocked? The only shocking thing about the shock poll, I think, is that it reckons the shockingly bad Tories will manage to hang on to 169 seats. 

Wishful thinking, to my mind. A far superior and more reliable opinion poll – the comments under articles like this one in The Telegraph no less – has seen this asteroid coming for over 18 months. It is one thing to alienate the floating voter, but the Conservatives have been governing as if they were their natural supporters’ own worst enemy. 

It is hard to overstate the sense of betrayal and anger. Back in October, I said that the Tories would be lucky to retain 150 seats and that was before we heard the Oh-dear-God legal immigration figures.

Allison Pearson: The Tories have been acting like their own supporters’ worst enemy



‘Rishi Sunak will win his vote – and doom his Government’

Yesterday was the largest rebellion of Rishi Sunak’s short premiership, writes Henry Hill. But despite a good night of Westminster theatre, it doesn’t look as if the fundamentals have changed very much.

The Government seems to have the votes to see off all the amendments to the Safety of Rwanda Bill tabled the rebels. If so, today comes down to how many of them are really prepared to actually vote the legislation down. The answer, surely, is not enough.




Rishi Sunak at Prime Minister’s Questions today


Credit: Jessica Taylor

No government has lost a bill at third reading since 1977. It would be a seismic shock to this one, and a personal humiliation for Rishi Sunak. With the Conservatives so far behind in the polls, MPs can be forgiven for balking at drastic action which might precipitate an early election.

Worse, it would leave the Tories with absolutely no political cover in the event that this summer sees another uptick in Channel crossings as the weather improves.

Henry Hill: If the legislation fails, Downing Street faces catastrophe



Civil servants told they have ‘responsibility’ to follow ministers’ instructions

Draft guidance issued to civil servants in light of the Rwanda Bill reads:

As a matter of UK law, the decision as to whether to comply with a Rule 39 indication is a decision for a Minister of the Crown. Parliament has legislated to grant Ministers this discretion.

The implications of such a decision in respect of the UK’s international obligations are a matter for Ministers.

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 leader ‘offers UK a refund’ over asylum seekers

Rwanda’s president has offered to repay millions of pounds that his country has received if Britain is unable to deport any asylum seekers to the country, writes Charles Hymas, our Home Affairs Editor.

Paul Kagame also warned there were limits on how long attempts to implement an asylum deal with Britain could “drag on”.




Credit: Gian Ehrenzeller

The Rwandan leader was speaking in Davos today before Rishi Sunak’s flagship Rwanda Bill was due to have its third reading after a rebellion by 60 MPs demanding that he should toughen it up.

No asylum seekers have yet been sent to Rwanda, which has so far received £240 million from the UK as part of an economic and development deal between the two countries under which migrants will be deported to claim asylum in the African state.

You can read the full story here



Sir John Hayes: Rwanda Bill must be improved

Sir John Hayes said the “troubling and profound” question of who governs Britain must be asked.

“My constituents want the Government they elect, the Parliament they voted for, to determine who governs Britain.

“Only by improving this bill, and by delivering the Prime Minister’s mission of stopping the boats, can we assure that we answer that question.”



Sir John Hayes: Rwanda Bill must be ‘fit for purpose’

Sir John Hayes said the Rwanda Bill was an opportunity to put things right – “but only if it’s fit for purpose”.

He said rebel amendments were “designed to make [Rishi Sunak’s] pledge real”, adding: “If these amendments are not accepted by the Government, I fear it will do just that – fail and disappoint. Fail and disappoint the very people we pledged we would stop the boats.”

Sir John said there was a “fundamental problem” with allowing foreign courts to determine outcomes affecting the UK as he spoke of the strong British tradition of judicial independence.



Sir John Hayes: Britain cannot afford current migration levels

Sir John Hayes, the chairman of the Common Sense Group of Tory MPs, said Britain “simply can’t afford” for the current levels of illegal migration to continue.

Sir John told the Commons: “Mass migration is perhaps the biggest existential crisis facing this country… It would be a view shared by a large number of my constituents and is also now widely shared in other countries.

“The British sense of fair play has been tested to its limits. The public sees this and they are increasingly disillusioned about the current ability of the political elite in this country, and we are the political elite, like it or not, and their unwillingness to accept the facts.”



Tim Loughton: The Rwanda plan is the only show in town

Tim Loughton, a member of the home affairs select committee, made a dig at colleagues as he said he would “be slightly unfashionable and talk to the amendment rather than regurgitate some of the second reading speeches we’ve had”.

Mr Loughton noted Labour and other opposition parties had been unable to fill the allocated time for the debate yesterday, adding: “At absolutely no point did they come up with a practical solution to the very real, everyday problems we are dealing with here.

“While we have disagreements on our side as to the methods, what we want to achieve is in common and that goal is something that needs to be tackled and we are having an honest debate about it on this side, and alas the official opposition is playing absolutely no part in that debate.”

He criticised Robert Jenrick, the former immigration minister, for not using “helpful language” as he said “cool heads” should prevail.

“The Rwanda scheme is not perfect, I think all of us will agree with that, but it is the only real show in town to answer this essential question – 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, they are effectively in the United Kingdom for the foreseeable future?”



The current state of play

The Telegraph has established that at least 15 Tory MPs are prepared to vote against the Government on the third reading, with more than a dozen more rebels undecided. If 29 MPs vote against, it would kill off the Bill.

However, a number of MPs who backed amendments to toughen up the legislation last night have publicly said in the past few hours that they will nonetheless support the Rwanda Bill at its third reading.

These are Michael Fabricant, Sir Desmond Swayne and Greg Smith, with other rebels also understood to be set to back the Bill.



Good afternoon

Dominic Penna here, The Telegraph’s Political Correspondent, taking over from Jack to guide you through the rest of the day.



Braverman claims ECHR has ‘undermined’ UK public safety and national security

Suella Braverman attacked the European Court of Human Rights as she spoke in favour of a Tory rebel amendment which would allow ministers to effectively ignore rulings made by Strasbourg judges in relation to the Rwanda policy. 

The former home secretary told the House of Commons: “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… or is it an opaque forum 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 public have indicated that they want and which has operated to undermine our public safety, our national security and our good governance. 

“The operation of the Strasbourg court… it is the European Court of Human Rights that we are concerned with here and it is that court that is currently controlling this country’s ability to stop the boats.”

Mrs Braverman said the amendment would “prevent that foreign court from stopping us”. 



Tory rebel cautions against torpedoing Rwanda Bill without Plan B

One senior rebel MP warned colleagues against voting down the Rwanda Bill unless they had a clear strategy on what the Conservative Party should do after doing so.

“Most people recognise it is a much bigger issue to defeat the Bill. The point has been made. Most people went through the lobbies saying they don’t agree the Bill is watertight and these are the changes that need to be made,” they said. 

“Voting against it at third reading means, if you defeat it, answering the question: then what next? Nobody has been able to answer that.”



Two prominent Tory rebels set to vote against Rwanda Bill

Two rebel backbenchers who chair the New Conservative group of Tory MPs have announced they will vote against the Rwanda Bill because they claim it will fail to stop the boats.

Danny Kruger and Miriam Cates said they intended to vote against the Bill at third reading unless the Government backed rebel amendments. Ministers have signalled there will be no climbdown.

In a joint statement, the two MPs said they appreciated that defeating the Bill would be “disruptive and cause difficult headlines for our party”.

But they added: “Nevertheless there is still time in this Parliament to bring back a Bill that works. That should be our mission.  

“We have heard a great deal about party unity.  As has often been observed in the last few days, what actually matters is delivering for our constituents and country.  

“The doomed pursuit of unity as an end in itself will mean nothing if, as we sadly anticipate, this Bill fails to deliver on the promises we have made to those who send us here.”

They invited other MPs to join them in the “no” lobby and tell them privately if they planned to do so. The rebel MPs are due to meet at 5pm to discuss tactics ahead of the votes on the amendments and third reading. 



Suella Braverman: ‘Last chance’ to fix Rwanda Bill

Suella Braverman said today represented the “last chance” to fix the Rwanda Bill. 

The former home secretary told the House of Commons: “We are here to fix a problem, the problem that we are all seized by, and that is stopping the boats.”

She continued: “The British people are fed up. They have run out of patience. They have run out of time. And this is our last chance to get it right.” 

Mrs Braverman said that proposed amendments she is backing seek to “remedy a fatal flaw in the Bill”, that being that the Bill as currently drafted “will lead us directly to a re-run of the scenario that we all saw on the 14th of June 2022” when the first Rwanda flight was blocked by the Strasbourg court.



Tory rebels draw up alternative Rwanda Bill

Tory rebels have drawn up an alternative Rwanda Bill designed to block all migrants’ appeals against deportation without breaching international law.

Lawyers for the rebels have drafted the proposed legislation in an attempt to demonstrate how the Government could adopt a tougher approach.

You can read the full story here



Ex-justice secretary urges Government to ‘tread carefully’ with Rwanda Bill

Sir Robert Buckland said the Government was “walking a tightrope” when it came to getting the Rwanda Bill right. 

The former justice secretary said ministers must show “restraint” and must not overreach with their plans to get flights off the ground.  

He said he wanted to sound a “word of warning” against “treading too heavily down this path of exceptionalism” as he spoke against Tory rebel amendments to strengthen the legislation. 

He said: “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-respecting parliament would want to follow.”



‘People in Scotland don’t want it, they didn’t vote for it’

Scotland does not want, and did not vote for, the Rwanda Bill, SNP MP Joanna Cherry told the House of Commons.

In her proposed amendments to the Rwanda Bill, Ms Cherry is seeking to prevent the Bill from applying to Scotland without the legislative consent of the Scottish Parliament.

Ms Cherry said: “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 Bill ‘acceptable, just’, says senior Tory MP

Sir Bob Neill said he still believed the Rwanda Bill was “acceptable, just”. 

The Tory chairman of the Justice Select Committee told the Commons this afternoon: “I had misgivings about this Bill, I mentioned that at second reading. I said that it stayed acceptable, just, and I will continue to maintain that position.”  



Senior Tory MP: ECHR is ‘not an alien body’

Sir Bob Neill, the Tory chairman of the Justice Select Committee, spoke against Tory rebel proposals to allow ministers to effectively ignore rulings made by Strasbourg judges in relation to the Rwanda policy. 

Sir Bob argued it was possible to criticise elements of the way in which the court operates but added: “The answer is not then to throw out the whole of the judicial baby and treaty with the bath water… it is possible to actually make reforms following dialogue between member states, the Council of Minister and the judiciary of the court.”     

He added: “This is not an alien body, it is a court of which we have joint ownership, it is our court along with that of all the other member states of the convention.”



Labour urge Sunak to ‘seize the chance’ and get money back from Rwanda

Yvette Cooper said Rishi Sunak should “seize the chance” and get the UK’s money back after Paul Kagame, Rwanda’s president, suggested he could return British taxpayers’ money if no-one was put on a plane there (see the post below at 13.25).

The shadow home secretary said: “If Rwanda says we can have the money back from this failing scheme, Rishi Sunak should seize the chance, instead of dragging out this Tory asylum chaos any longer. 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.”



‘Conservative psychodrama needs to end,’ says Labour frontbencher

Stephen Kinnock, the shadow immigration minister, claimed the Government’s Rwanda plan was “unworkable, unaffordable and unlawful” as Labour urged MPs to vote against it. 

Mr Kinnock told the House of Commons: “It is unworkable, unaffordable and unlawful. If we are to stop the Tory small boats chaos and end the expensive asylum use of hotels which are costing £8 million a day then this Conservative psychodrama needs to end. 

“We need Labour’s five-point plan to end this chaos, starting with going after the criminal gangs upstream in a new security partnership with Europol.

“We need a government that puts country before party and we need a general election this spring.”



Lord Cameron ‘confident’ Rwanda Bill will clear the Commons

Lord Cameron, the Foreign Secretary, said he was “confident” the Rwanda Bill will pass its third reading vote in the House of Commons.

Taking questions at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, 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.

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



No 10 signals it won’t accept any amendments to Rwanda Bill

The Rwanda Bill is “as tough as it can be while keeping the Rwandans in the scheme”, Downing Street said as it signalled the Government will not accept any changes proposed by Tory rebels. 

Asked about Rishi Sunak’s message to wavering Tory MPs, his press secretary told reporters after PMQs: “We want to take action on this issue that’s very important to the public.

“We think this Bill is extremely tough, is as tough as it can be while keeping the Rwandans in the scheme. We don’t want to do something which means that they wouldn’t participate so we would have nowhere to send people. We think this is the best way forward, deliver action quickly.”



Rwandan President: ‘If they don’t come, we can return the money’

Paul Kagame, Rwanda’s president, said it was the “UK’s problem” that migrants had not been sent to the country and suggested he could return British taxpayers’ money if no-one was put on a plane there.

He told the BBC at the World Economic Forum in Davos: “It’s the UK’s problem, not Rwanda’s problem.”

The president added: “If they don’t come, we can return the money.”

Some £240 million has already been committed to the Rwanda plan, with a further £50 million earmarked for next year.



Downing Street urges all Tory MPs to ‘get behind’ Rwanda Bill

No 10 has urged MPs to “get behind this Bill” following the biggest rebellion of Rishi Sunak’s leadership over the legislation.

The Prime Minister’s press secretary said: “We are unified in our position in wanting to stop the boats, so we encourage them all to get behind this Bill so we can get this deterrent up and running as quickly as possible.”



No 10 says Tory rebels have not provided relevant legal advice on amendments

Downing Street said it had not been shown legal advice by Tory rebels seeking to beef up the Rwanda Bill despite asking “every day” since last week to see it.

It said that any amendments would need to be backed by “respectable legal advice” in order to be accepted.

The Prime Minister’s press secretary said: “We asked to see it last week and they said they’d be happy to share it. I understand we’ve asked to see it every day since then and we haven’t received it.

“Any amendments to be accepted would have to have a respectable legal argument, so that’s hugely important to be able to see the reasoning… so it would have been helpful to have seen that in advance.”



Jenrick urges Sunak to accept amendment to thwart Strasbourg court

Robert Jenrick urged Rishi Sunak to accept his amendment which is designed to stop the European Court of Human Rights from being able to block Rwanda flights. 

He said that unless the Government accepts the change “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”.

He said: “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.”



MPs facing ‘final opportunity’ to fix Rwanda Bill, suggests Jenrick

The second day of committee stage debate on the Rwanda Bill is now underway in the House of Commons.

Robert Jenrick, the former immigration minister, was the first MP called to speak. 

He told the chamber that today is “likely to be the final opportunity for this House to consider this Bill” and whether it will work. 

Mr Jenrick highlighted the potential for the European Court of Human Rights to intervene in the future to potentially block Rwanda deportation flights as he argued in favour of strengthening the Rwanda Bill. 

He said the Bill as drafted was 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”. 

One of Mr Jenrick’s proposed amendments to the Bill, backed by dozens of Tory MPs, would make it the default position that “Rule 39” orders issued by the Strasbourg court would not be treated as binding on the UK and would not prevent removals to Rwanda. 



Rwanda Bill debate to start in 10 minutes’ time

PMQs has now finished. 

The second day of committee stage debate on the Rwanda Bill will get underway in just over 10 minutes’ time, after the Commons has heard today’s 10 Minute Rule Motion (a parliamentary device which allows MPs to bring forward their own legislation). 



SNP: Government ‘tearing itself apart’ over Rwanda Bill

Stephen Flynn, the SNP’s Westminster leader, claimed the Government was “tearing itself apart” over the Rwanda Bill. 

He said: “When people woke up today in homes that they can’t afford to heat, with mortgages that they are struggling to pay, to news that inflation is once again on the rise, they will 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 that the anger that some of his own backbenchers have towards him is no comparison to the anger that the public have towards his party?” 

Rishi Sunak replied: “If [Mr Flynn] 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 where the average worker in Scotland is now paying more tax than they do in England?”



‘Crystal clear’ that Starmer ‘doesn’t believe in anything’, claims Sunak

Sir Keir Starmer asked: “If the Prime Minister can’t even persuade his own MPs that it is worth supporting him, if he himself doesn’t even believe in his own policies, why on earth should anyone else think differently?” 

Rishi Sunak said: “Another week when it is crystal clear [Sir Keir] doesn’t believe in anything and he doesn’t have a plan.” 




Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, is pictured today in the House of Commons during PMQs



Starmer: Sunak has been ‘brutally exposed by his own MPs’ on Rwanda Bill

The Labour leader claimed Rishi Sunak had been “brutally exposed by his own MPs yet again” over the Rwanda Bill, referring to last night’s resignations. 

Sir Keir Starmer claimed Tory MPs were in “open revolt against his policy”. 

But Mr Sunak prompted loud cheers from Tory MPs as he hit back and said: “It will be news to him, it is actually the case that you can believe in something and stick to that position…”



PM has ‘absolute conviction’ Rwanda plan ‘will work’

Sir Keir Starmer mocked Rishi Sunak over his Rwanda plan, telling the Commons: “The only people he has sent to Rwanda are Cabinet ministers.”

The Labour leader claimed the Prime Minister does not believe in his Rwanda “gimmick”, and asked: “When he sees his party tearing itself apart, hundreds of bald men scrapping over a single broken comb, doesn’t he wish he had the courage to stick to his guns?” 

Mr Sunak replied: “I have absolute conviction that the plan we have put in place will work. Absolute conviction because I believe it is important that we grip this problem.”



Sunak claims Starmer ‘doesn’t actually care about’ stopping the boats

Rishi Sunak said that Sir Keir Starmer “doesn’t actually care about solving this problem” of small boat crossings, citing the Labour leader’s opposition to the Rwanda scheme. 

The Prime Minister said that it was “crystal clear” that Sir Keir “doesn’t have a plan”. 

Sir Keir hit back and repeated his initial question on how many people the Government had lost track of (see the post below at 12.06). 

Mr Sunak said the Government had “worked through a record number of cases”. 




Rishi Sunak, the Prime Minister, is pictured today in the House of Commons during PMQs



Starmer and Sunak clash over Rwanda scheme

Sir Keir Starmer started PMQs by saying the Government had been “forced to admit that it has lost contact with 85 per cent of the 5,000 people earmarked for removal to Rwanda” (the original story on this subject was in The Telegraph and you can read it here).  

Sir Keir asked Rishi Sunak: “Has he found them yet?”

Mr Sunak said that despite Labour opposition to his small boats plan the Government had managed to “reduce the number of people coming here by over a third last year”. 

The Prime Minister told the Commons: “We have a plan, it is working. With him we would just go back to square one.” 



Sunak cheered by Tory MPs ahead of PMQs

Rishi Sunak was given a loud cheer by Tory MPs as he entered the House of Commons for Prime Minister’s Questions. 

Mr Sunak is now sat on the Government frontbench and PMQs should start imminently. 



No 10 confident Rwanda Bill will pass as rebels start to back down

Some Conservative rebels who attempted to harden Rishi Sunak’s Rwanda Bill are now publicly saying that they will support the legislation at the final crunch vote expected tonight. 

Four Tory MPs who on Tuesday night tried to toughen the proposed new law have publicly indicated that they will end up voting for the Bill, even if no amendments pass. Two more Tory MPs have said the same privately to The Telegraph. 

The news will be cheered in Number 10.  The developments come as Downing Street attempts to convince the 60 Tory MPs who rebelled on amendments to the Bill that they should not vote to kill it off. 

In turn the most determined rebels are attempting to convince wavering colleagues that the right course of action would be to defeat this legislation and bring back another version. 

Sources in Downing Street and across the wider government were said to be showing a quiet confidence that they would win at the crucial third reading vote.  

Tory rebels who talked to The Telegraph on Wednesday morning were split, but some admitted it was looking unlikely that they could force a defeat on the overall legislation.



Pictured: Rishi Sunak leaves No 10 ahead of PMQs




Rishi Sunak, the Prime Minister, is pictured this morning leaving 10 Downing Street ahead of PMQs


Credit: Frank Augstein/AP



Labour hold 17 point poll lead over Tories

Labour’s poll lead over the Tories has narrowed slightly to 17 points, according to a new Savanta survey. 

A poll conducted between January 12-14 put Labour on 44 per cent of the vote and the Tories on 27 per cent. 

The Conservatives were up by one point while Labour were down by one point when compared to the company’s previous survey conducted between January 5-7. 

🚨NEW Westminster Voting Intention

📈17pt Labour lead.

🌹Lab 44 (-1)

🌳Con 27 (+1)

🔶LD 11 (+1)

➡️Reform 7 (-1)

🌍Green 4 (-1)

🎗️SNP 3 (=)

⬜️Other 4 (=)

2,148 UK adults, 12-14 January

(chg 5-7 Jan) pic.twitter.com/t9SB2zz6hu

— Savanta UK (@Savanta_UK) January 17, 2024



Sunak faces crunch PMQs ahead of Rwanda Bill debate

Rishi Sunak will enter the House of Commons at lunchtime today for Prime Minister’s Questions after last night suffering the worst Tory rebellion of his premiership over the Rwanda Bill. 

It is likely to be a bruising session for the PM. 

Sir Keir Starmer will almost certainly seek to take advantage of Tory travails by focusing on last night’s resignations and the repeated criticism of the Bill from Conservative MPs during yesterday’s debate. 

The debate on the Bill will then resume in the Commons shortly after PMQs. It is shaping up to be a big afternoon for the Government. 



Sir Simon Clarke announces he will vote against Rwanda Bill

Sir Simon Clarke has announced he will vote against the Rwanda Bill at its third reading tonight. 

Writing for The Telegraph, the former Cabinet minister said: 

“Tonight, I will vote against the third reading of the Safety of Rwanda Bill. I will do so not because I disagree with it: this plan is critical to stopping the flow of small boats across the Channel.

“I will vote against the Bill precisely because I do not believe it will deliver. The amendments that I and some 70 other MPs have supported are designed to close what are critical holes in this legislation that will otherwise almost certainly lead to its failure.”

You can read Sir Simon’s full piece here



Reader pull: Should Sunak accept Tory demands to strengthen Rwanda Bill?

Tory rebels failed in their attempts yesterday to strengthen the Rwanda Bill but they will try again this afternoon. 

Downing Street has given no indication that it could be willing to accept any changes to the legislation. 

But what do you think? Should Rishi Sunak accept demands to strengthen the Bill? You can have your say in our reader poll below: 



Labour claim Sunak distracted by ‘Tory psychodrama’

Labour claimed Rishi Sunak was distracted by the “Tory psychodrama” over the Rwanda Bill. 

Thangam Debbonaire, the shadow culture secretary, said Mr Sunak “doesn’t seem to be interested in inflation and the cost-of-living crisis” because of the Tory rebellion on the Bill. 

The Office for National Statistics announced this morning that the rate of Consumer Prices Index (CPI) inflation had increased to four per cent in December, up from 3.9 per cent in November.

Ms Debbonaire told GB News: “Isn’t that interesting that what we’ve got this week is a Prime Minister who doesn’t seem to be interested in inflation and the cost of living crisis. He’s just focusing on an internal Tory psychodrama to do with the Rwanda Bill.

“Inflation has gone up a lot. My heart goes out to the people who already at the moment are working out, ‘how can I get to the end of the month?’.

“Do you know what, they probably…don’t need to see the figures to know what was happening because they can work it out in their own finances.”



Tory MP ‘very much prepared’ to vote against Rwanda Bill

Tory MP Jonathan Gullis said he is “very much prepared” to vote against the Rwanda Bill at its third reading. 

He told Sky News: “If the Bill is unamended I will at the bare minimum abstain on the vote like I did at second reading. I am very much prepared to walk in the ‘no’ lobby if other colleagues, I have been working intensively with, all agree that is the right way forward.” 



Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg yet to decide how to vote on Rwanda Bill

Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg said he had not yet decided how he will vote on the Rwanda Bill when the Commons is asked to deliver its verdict on the overall legislation. 

He told Times Radio: “The truth is, I haven’t decided. But I will decide before the vote comes. But I want the Government to succeed. I want this policy to succeed. It’s about helping the Government have a policy that will be successful.”



Voters ‘very impatient’ on failure to stop the boats, says Rees-Mogg

Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg suggested the current version of the Rwanda Bill could work if there were no time pressures on the Government to take action and stop the boats.

The former business secretary told Times Radio that voters are “getting very impatient”. 

“I think if there were time it would be possible to work through the courts, to work through the appeals, to make sure that eventually flights took off,” he said. 

“But I think voters, and there was a huge opinion poll that showed this, are getting very impatient with the inability of Parliament to safeguard the borders and to remove people who have come here illegally. 

“This is the third piece of legislation, and I think the voters want to see it work now rather than in a couple of years’ time.”



What time is the Rwanda vote?

The second day of committee stage debate on the Rwanda Bill will get underway in the House of Commons after PMQs. 

If there are no urgent questions or statements that should be about 12.45pm. There will then be a maximum of six hours of debate followed by votes on amendments. 

If the Bill is unamended then it will proceed immediately to its third reading – the final stage a Bill has to clear before it goes to the House of Lords for further scrutiny. 

The third reading debate can last for a maximum of one hour and after that MPs will vote to deliver their verdict on the overall Bill.

It is worth remembering that a government Bill has not been defeated at third reading in the Commons since 1977. 



‘We’ll see what they say today’

A Conservative MP who quit as deputy chairman over Rishi Sunak’s Rwanda Bill has said “foreign courts in far-flung countries” must not be allowed to control Britain’s borders.

Brendan Clarke-Smith, who won the Red Wall seat of Bassetlaw at the last general election, left his position on Tuesday to support amendments aimed at toughening the Prime Minister’s proposals, including one that would direct British courts to ignore ECHR rulings in specific cases.

Asked if immigration was the most important issue in his constituency, Mr Clarke-Smith told The Telegraph: “Yes, not least because they link it to everything else. Nearly 70 per cent of people [in Bassetlaw] voted for Brexit. That’s not because people were that passionate just about the EU, there’s other factors in there as well.

“People want to see the standard of living increase – it’s not just migration that translates to, it’s things like law and order as well – as well as showing our Parliament and courts are sovereign, rather than foreign ones in far-flung countries.”

Insisting he had departed on “good terms” with Conservative Campaign Headquarters (CCHQ), Mr Clarke-Smith predicted Mr Sunak could still lead the Conservatives to victory at the election later this year.

He declined to say whether he was prepared to vote against Mr Sunak’s Bill at its third reading tonight, responding: “We’ll see what they say today. The third reading is a different issue to amendments, and we’ll see what happens with that.”



Rwanda flights would start with ‘hundreds’ of migrants, says minister

Hundreds of small boat migrants would be deported to Rwanda when the plan first starts before increasing to thousands, the illegal migration minister said. 

Michael Tomlinson said the deportation scheme would “start off small”. 

He told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: “It will start off with small numbers and then it will move into the thousands, exactly as happened with Albania.

“Small numbers started off being deported week by week, we have now seen nearly 6,000 people deported. It is exactly the same process.”  

He added: “The numbers are, it’ll start off in the hundreds and then it will increase into the thousands.” 

Mr Tomlinson would not be drawn on how long it would take for flights to start once the Bill becomes law.




Michael Tomlinson, the illegal migration minister, is pictured this morning in Westminster


Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA



PM’s message to Tory rebels is ‘we all want the same thing’, says minister

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 Radio that Rishi Sunak would be involved in talks with Tory MPs over the course of today.

“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.”



Pictured: Sir Keir Starmer leaves his London home this morning




Sir Keir Stramer, the Labour leader, is pictured this morning leaving his London home


Credit: Marcin Nowak /London News Pictures Ltd



Minister claims only an ‘inch’ between Government and Tory rebels

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

Speaking to BBC Breakfast, Mr Tomlinson said he understood the concerns of his colleagues and “that’s why those conversations will continue throughout the course of the day”. 

Put to him that Tory MPs fundamentally disagreed, he said: “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.”



Tory MP blasts rebels as ‘coalition of the thick and the ambitious’

Emotions are running high in the Conservative Party following last night’s resignation of deputy chairman Lee Anderson and Brendan Clarke-Smith over the Prime Minister’s Rwanda Bill. 

One irate veteran Tory told my colleague Camilla Tominey: “You have no idea of the anger at the rebels amongst the rest of the parliamentary party.

“The rebels are a coalition of the thick and the ambitious. Their proposals won’t work, have no majority in the House and are promoted by two incompetent ex Home Office ministers. And if implemented would unravel Brexit. ‘Get Brexit Undone’ is not a great slogan.”



Tory MP: Rwanda flights must be regular or voters will view plan as a ‘gimmick’

Deportation flights to Rwanda must take off regularly or the public will view the scheme as nothing more than a “gimmick”, a Tory MP considering rebelling on the legislation has said.

Jonathan Gullis told LBC Radio this morning: “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.”



Minister claims there is ‘unity of purpose’ among Tory MPs on Rwanda Bill

Illegal migration minister Michael Tomlinson claimed there was a “unity of purpose” among Tory MPs on the Prime Minister’s Rwanda plan.

“What we saw yesterday was a unity of purpose, every single Conservative member of Parliament determined to ensure that the Rwanda policy works and to stop the boats,” he told Sky News.

Mr Tomlinson said there had been “detailed debate and constructive, robust exchanges on all sides”.



Tories ‘united in our belief’ that small boats problem must be solved, says Hunt

The Tories are “united” in the belief that the small boats problem must be solved, Jeremy Hunt said. 

Asked about the damage done by Tory resignations last night, the Chancellor told broadcasters: “We are united in the Conservative Party in our belief we need to solve this problem. Of course we have lively debates inside the party about how to deliver a Rwanda policy. 

“But the big picture is there is only one major party in British politics that wants to make Rwanda work and that is the Conservative Party. The Labour Party don’t. 

“And if you want a fair immigration system where people who arrive her illegally are deported quickly then it is only the Conservative Party that can deliver that.”




Jeremy Hunt, the Chancellor, speaks to broadcasters this morning in No 11 Downing Street


Credit: Rory Arnold /No 10 Downing Street



Jeremy Hunt: Tories ‘determined’ to get Rwanda plan off the ground

Jeremy Hunt insisted the Conservative Party remained “determined” to get the Rwanda plan off the ground despite last night’s Tory rebellion. 

The Chancellor said it was only the Conservatives that “want to make the Rwanda policy work”. 

Asked how concerned he was about Tory splits on the issue in a general election year, Mr Hunt told broadcasters this morning: “When you look at what happened in the House of Commons you can see that the Conservative Party, of course we have debates about how to get there, but we are the only party that wants to make the Rwanda policy work, wants to have a policy where we are deporting people quickly who arrive here illegally. 

“And the Labour Party and the other parties don’t want to have a Rwanda plan, they don’t want a plan that does that and that is the fundamental divide in British politics. 

“Of course, it is not easy getting to that point but in the Conservative Party we are determined to do that because we think that is the only way we will have a fair immigration system.” 



No 10 not considering pulling Rwanda Bill despite Tory rebellion

Downing Street is not considering pulling the Rwanda Bill from the House of Commons after last night’s Tory rebellion, the illegal migration minister insisted this morning. 

Conservative rebel amendments were defeated last night because the Government as well as opposition parties voted them down.

But opposition parties are expected to vote against the overall Bill. That means that if last night’s Tory rebellion was repeated it would be enough to overturn the Government’s working majority and sink the Bill. 

Asked if No 10 was considering pulling the Bill from being debated this afternoon, Michael Tomlinson told Sky News this morning:

“No, this afternoon I will be on my feet again in the chamber of the House of Commons, we have got the second day of the committee stage, we will have amendments that have been put forward on all sides and as I do, and as I have been doing throughout my short period in this role, I will be listening respectfully to colleagues.”



Chance of pre-election Rwanda flights ‘pretty slim’, claims Farage

Nigel Farage said the Government’s Rwanda plan had become a “farce” as he questioned whether ministers will deliver on their ambition for flights to take off before the next election. 

He told GB News: “We’re over 600 days into this Rwanda farce, 600 days where the Government have promised us that people who cross the English Channel illegally in dinghies would be sent to Rwanda.

“We’ve spent hundreds of millions of pounds; not a single flight has gone, not one person has gone and as we go on through this internecine warfare within the Conservative Party, I wonder legally, frankly, all the while we’re signed up to the European Convention on Human Rights, to various conventions with the United Nations whether any of it is worth a row of beans?”

He added: “I’d have thought actually the chances of any flights taking off before the next general election look pretty slim, don’t they?” 



Sunak would be ‘wise to listen’ to Tory Rwanda Bill rebels, says ex-Cabinet minister

Rishi Sunak would be “wise to listen” to Tory rebels and strengthen his Rwanda Bill because the “British public’s patience is wearing thin”, Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg said. 

The former business secretary warned there is a “risk” that the Bill could be torpedoed when it is put to a crunch vote tonight because of the scale of Tory discontent. 

He told GB News: “The Government’s current working majority is 54 but we saw 68 votes in favour of Sir Bill’s amendment against the Government [last night].

“So there is a risk that the whole Rwanda Bill could lose [tonight]. The Prime Minister, I think, would be wise to listen to the advice of his backbenchers and make the Bill watertight.

‘The Prime Minister would be wise to listen as the British public’s patience is wearing thin’

Jacob Rees-Mogg warns the PM over Rwanda and appeals to his colleagues to deliver on reducing immigration to win back support. pic.twitter.com/foCt2RhG7H

— GB News (@GBNEWS) January 16, 2024

“We’re approaching the two-year mark since Boris Johnson announced the Rwanda plan. And we’ve seen countless obstacles thrown in its way including the European Court of Human Rights and our own Supreme Court, which eccentrically based its judgment, at least in part, on evidence from the United Nations, which uses Rwanda as a place to send refugees. 

“The Government itself ought not to become an obstacle to its own plan’s success because the British public’s patience is wearing thin. We cannot have another Bill that doesn’t actually work. This time it must succeed.”



Rees-Mogg: Strengthen Rwanda Bill to restore Tory popularity and prevent wipeout

Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg has urged Rishi Sunak to accept Tory rebel demands to strengthen his Rwanda Bill, arguing it would restore the popularity of the Conservative Party and help it avoid a general election “wipeout”. 

The former Cabinet minister said the Government needed to show that it “listens to and shares the concerns of the British people” on the issue of stopping the boats. 

He told GB News: “If the Tory Party followed the rebels, it would begin to restore its popularity by being Conservative. If the Prime Minister gets this Bill right and we see flights taking off before the next election, we could just possibly see a revival of Tory support that could prevent the predicted election wipeout.

“It would show a government that listens to and shares the concerns of the British people. Particularly on this issue, because I do feel that the politicians are so out of touch with the British electorate.”

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