UK’s Rishi Sunak Quells Tory Rebellion as MPs Approve His Plan To Send Migrants to Rwanda – Bill Now Faces Stiff Opposition in the House of Lords

The ‘migrants to Rwanda’ soap opera had another exciting chapter in the last couple of days, but it doesn’t seem like it’ll be over any time soon.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak managed to score a win, as dozens of Tories who thought the Rwanda bill was flawed and had threatened to rebel ended up backing the bill in the lower house of Parliament.

BBC reported:

“Rishi Sunak has succeeded in getting his key Rwanda bill through the House of Commons after a Tory rebellion failed to materialize. The bill, which aims to stop legal challenges against ministers’ plans to send asylum seekers to Rwanda, was approved by 320 votes to 276 votes.”

In the end, only 11 Tory MPs voted against it. The bill now proceeds to the House of Lords – where it will face severe opposition.

“Mr Sunak argues that deporting some asylum seekers to Rwanda will be a deterrent to migrants seeking to get to the UK by crossing the Channel in small boats, but Labour has labeled the plan an expensive ‘gimmick’.”

The PM hopes to get the flights to Rwanda running by the spring, but that has subsequently become unlikely.

“On Wednesday, former immigration minister Robert Jenrick tabled an amendment which would permit the UK government to ignore parts of human rights law in relation to sending people to Rwanda. Mr Jenrick also proposed an amendment which would ensure ministers automatically reject last-minute interim orders from the European Court of Human Rights.”

Former Home Secretary Suella Braverman was among the Tory votes against Sunak’s bill.

If 30 Conservatives voted against it, the bill would have failed, which would mean the ‘kiss of death’ to Sunak’s premiership.

Among the 11 Tory MPs that voted against it was Conservative firebrand, former Home Secretary Suella Braverman.

“Home Secretary James Cleverly defended the plan arguing that it sent “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,” he added.

[…] One rebel source told the BBC: ‘It is not the case that tonight’s vote is the end of matters. If the House of Lords chooses – as I suspect they will – to send back amendments that weaken the bill, the response of those [right-wing Conservative MPs] will be to table amendments in lieu that toughen the bill’.”

The bill will now face harsh opposition in the House of Lords, with many peers convinced it does not comply with international law, and Sunak’s plan to begin flying asylum seekers to Rwanda by spring is all but overturned.

The House of Lords approved a timetable where the bill will not pass before late March.

The prime minister, in a press conference, urged peers to pass his asylum bill as soon as possible, telling them that it reflected the ‘will of the people’.

The Guardian reported:

“Angela Smith, Labour’s leader in the Lords, told the Guardian: ‘Sunak’s press conference was bizarre. I don’t think he has a clue how the Lords works. We will stick to our normal processes for approving this bill’.

Alex Carlile, a crossbench peer and lawyer, said: ‘The prime minister’s press conference was vacuous and banal, and he repeated the same statement around 20 times. It has caused some annoyance in the Lords’.”

The PM sought to capitalize on the victory and pressure the unelected House of Lords.

“Sunak said: ‘The question is, will the House of Lords understand the country’s frustration, see the will of the elected house and move as quickly as we have to support this legislation so we can get it on the statute books and then get flights up and running?’”

But peers agreed to a timetable ‘that will see the bill get a second reading on 29 January, followed by three days of debate in the committee stage on 12, 14 and 19 February’.

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