Rishi Sunak 'faces 40-strong Tory mutiny' on Rwanda legislation

Rishi Sunak ‘faces 40-strong Tory mutiny’ as he ‘backs off’ exempting Rwanda deportations from human rights laws with James Cleverly and Lord Cameron warning against the move

Rishi Sunak is facing a looming Tory mutiny today amid claims he is backing off exempting Rwanda deportations from human rights rules.

Around 40 MPs are said to be ready to support an amendment that would waive parts of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) to get the Channel migrants policy up and running. 

The PM has insisted that all options are on the table to ensure that flights take off next year, after the Supreme Court ruled the current plans were illegal. 

But there are claims that Downing Street is going cold on the idea of including a ‘notwithstanding’ clause in emergency legislation set to be unveiled in the coming weeks.

According to the Times, lawyers have warned that a ‘full-fat’ approach of exempting the measures from the ECHR would merely provoke more legal challenges.

Home Secretary James Cleverly has also signalled concerns about the proposal, while Lord Cameron’s Foreign Office fears it could damage the UK’s international standing. 

However, other senior ministers are believed to be more hawkish, including Mr Cleverly’s Home Office deputy Robert Jenrick.  

Rishi Sunak is facing a looming Tory mutiny amid claims he is backing off exempting Rwanda deportations from human rights rules

Home Secretary James Cleverly has signalled concerns about the idea of dropping out of the European Convention on Human Rights 

Channel migrants being brought ashore in Kent earlier this month

Mr Cleverly was assailed by Tory MPs calling for action to curb human rights rules in the Commons yesterday.

Dozens are thought to be preparing to back an amendment to any emergency legislation if it does not include a derogation from the ECHR and UN refugee provisions. 

The Supreme Court ruled that deportations could not go ahead because Rwanda might send asylum seekers back to their country of origin, where they could be in danger.  

Mr Cleverly insisted he would not ‘pre-judge’ whether emergency legislation would allow ministers to disapply parts of international agreements.

He said: ‘We will do everything we can to ensure that we break the business model of the evil people smugglers, that we drive down small-boat arrivals. 

‘The deterrent effect of Rwanda is a key element of that multi-strand approach. The Rwanda scheme is an incredibly important part of our basket of responses.’

Connected plans for a new Treaty with Rwanda that could swing the legal position in the government’s favour also seem to have run into problems.

The agreement had been initially mooted to conclude last week, but now looks unlikely until next week – and potentially not until after Christmas.

With the time required to ratify any deal and the prospect of more legal challenges, it throws the PM’s timetable of the first Rwanda flights taking off by Spring into doubt.  

The government also felt the heat from Conservative MPs over legal migration yesterday.

Jonathan Gullis said last week’s record net migration figures were ‘completely unacceptable’ for the people in his constituency. 

He urged them to ‘copy and paste’ proposals to reduce the figures put forward by the New Conservatives grouping of Tory MPs.

Mr Jenrick replied: ‘The level of legal migration into this country is far too high. We have already announced a specific policy with respect to dependants which comes into force at the beginning of next year.’

It came after claims that Mr Sunak agreed to raise the salary threshold for migrant workers from £25,000 to £40,000 as part of a deal with Suella Braverman, who was sacked as home secretary two weeks ago.

Lord Cameron’s Foreign Office fears a bold Rwanda move could damage the UK’s international standing

Mr Cleverly fielded angry interventions from Tory MP yesterday, and insisted the Rwanda scheme remains a ‘key element’ of efforts to tackle the Channel crisis

Identical measures were proposed by former PM Boris Johnson in his Mail column on Saturday, after figures showed net migration hit a record 745,000 last year, mostly driven by foreign workers.

Raising the minimum salary which must be paid by employers to overseas recruits would see a huge reduction in the number of work visas granted.

Mr Sunak yesterday insisted he was determined to cut net migration, saying the figures ‘need to come down to more sustainable levels’.

Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove admitted the immigration figures will force Britain to build thousands more homes on greenfield sites, and that the Government’s target to build a million new homes in this parliamentary term would not be enough.

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