Suella Braverman Says Tories Face “Electoral Oblivion” If Rishi Sunak’s Rwanda Legislation Doesn’t Meet Five Tests
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Former home secretary Suella Braverman set out five key tests that Rishi Sunak’s emergency Rwanda legislation must meet if the Prime Minister is to retain the support of MPs on the right of the Conservative party, of whom she is a figurehead.
Braverman said her party faced “electoral oblivion” if the new legislation failed to “stop the boats”.
Government has not yet confirmed detail of “emergency” legislation that has been promised to allow them to push ahead with plans to send asylum seekers to Rwanda, after the initial proposals were ruled as unlawful.
Home Office minister Chris Philp insisted to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Wednesday that the legislation would be put before the Commons in “days, not weeks”. It is expected it could be put forward as early as Thursday, following a Home Secretary James Cleverly’s signing of a treaty with Rwanda on Tuesday which guaranteed refugees would not be sent to unsafe countries.
Braverman is due to make a statement in the Commons following Prime Minister’s Questions that could criticise the Sunak’s approach to immigration, according to The Telegraph.
She has previously said that Sunak has “failed to prepare any sort of credible Plan B” in lieu of getting the Rwanda scheme running, and accused him of having “no real intention of fulfilling your pledge to the British people”.
MPs on the right of the party gathered in Parliament on Tuesday night to discuss their planned response to the Rwanda legislation. There are concerns among a number of Tories that Sunak’s proposals will not be robust enough, while Downing Street remains committed to devising a plan that can overcome legal roadblocks.
A senior Conservative source told PoliticsHome that around 30-40 MPs attended the meeting of influential Conservative groups including the European Research Group, the Common Sense Group, and the The New Conservatives, and said that it was “very successful”. They insisted that the legislation has to be watertight against further Supreme Court challenges, after judges previously ruled it breached human rights laws.
“The wording has got to be absolutely spot on to have the desired effect. In other words, it’s got to make sure that the objections that were identified in the Supreme Court judgement can’t be repeated,” they said.
In November, the Supreme Court backed an earlier decision by the Court of Appeal that the scheme might break international law because it could potentially breach the rule that asylum-seekers cannot be sent back to their country of origin if their life is at risk.
On Tuesday night, ERG (European Research Group) chairman Mark Francois told Sky News it would be “unwise” to bounce MPs into backing the plans and that the group planned to convene its so-called “star chamber” of lawyers to scrutinise the legislation. The group was instrumental in obstructing former prime minister Theresa May’s proposals for Brexit.
“They will then examine the Bill in detail to look at the question of whether it fully respects parliamentary sovereignty and whether it contains unambiguous wording that would facilitate planes taking off to Rwanda,” Francois added.
One Conservative MP told PoliticsHome that the Cabinet is not “set up to do the right thing” on illegal migration.
“Without an actual policy on Rwanda that is going to work, it’s just pissing in the wind,” they said.
“He’s [Sunak] not someone with any experience of running anything and it shows. The Cabinet isn’t set up to do the right thing by the country. That’s a fundamental problem.”
But as well as appeasing those on the right of the party, Sunak must ensure any legislation is accepted by those at its centre, who have warned the government should “think twice” before making changes that could overrule the European Convention on Human Rights.
PoliticsHome reported last month that membership of the One Nation caucus has grown to 106 in recent months, as MPs challenge the right of the party on issues such as immigration in particular.
One Nation chair Damian Green said on Tuesday that the group will be “examining the new amendments to the Migration and Economic Development Partnership extremely carefully”.
“The Government should think twice before overriding both the ECHR and HRA and not rush such long term, difficult decisions,” he added.