Home » Conservative Splits Emerge Ahead of Rwanda Migration Law
Africa Migration Politics Rwanda UK

Conservative Splits Emerge Ahead of Rwanda Migration Law

Splits have emerged in the Conservative Party over Rishi Sunak’s flagship Rwanda legislation, ahead of its publication.

Home Secretary James Cleverly signed a new treaty with Rwanda on Tuesday, after the Supreme Court found previous plans unlawful.

His predecessor, Suella Braverman, has argued the UK must override human rights laws to push through the plan.

But MPs from a different section of the party described this as a “red-line”.

The prime minister promised a bill to deal with concerns raised last month by the Supreme Court over the government’s scheme to send asylum seekers to east Africa.

Mr Sunak is due to announce emergency legislation in “days not weeks”, Home Office minister Chris Philp told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

The bill is designed to work in conjunction with the new treaty, which will see the UK pay for Rwandan authorities to process asylum applications for people who come to the UK.

The new agreement will mean that the UK will also pay for British and Commonwealth judges to preside over a newly established appeals process as well as the costs of all legal fees from anyone sent to Rwanda.

Speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions, Mr Sunak said the Rwanda scheme was designed to act as a deterrent to people coming to the UK in small boat crossings and to “break the cycle of tragedy” of people smuggling.

In January, Mr Sunak made “stop the boats” one of his top five priorities. He said he would “do everything it takes to get this scheme working so that we can indeed stop the boats”.

Labour has pledged to scrap the policy if it wins the next election.

At PMQs, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer labelled the plan a “gimmick” that cost the UK “hundreds of millions of pounds for nothing in return”.

The BBC understands centrist Tory MPs are worried Mr Sunak may be considering Mrs Braverman’s plans to disregard human rights law as part of the Rwanda plan.

Mrs Braverman, the former home secretary, has previously argued that the bill should ignore “the entirety” of the Human Rights Act (HRA) and the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), as well as other relevant international obligations including the Refugee Convention.

Another option is for the bill to declare Rwanda a safe country.

The BBC understands Mr Sunak is hoping to steer a middle course between those options.

Mrs Braverman has made a personal statement to MPs on Wednesday afternoon, saying the bill must block all routes of legal challenge, to allow flights to Rwanda to take off.

Conservative splits

The One Nation Caucus, which has a current membership of 106 Conservative MPs, called on the prime minister to “think twice before overriding” either the ECHR and HRA.

Former deputy prime minister Damian Green, who now chairs the One Nation Caucus, said: “Successive Conservative governments have played a vital role in creating and protecting the ECHR as well as the Refugee and Torture conventions.

“We have continued to hold these treaties dear and they should be seen as fundamental to part of protecting the UK’s democratic legacy.”

Matt Warman, a leading member of the group, said: “Overriding the ECHR is a red line for a number of Conservatives. Protecting and reforming institutions and upholding human rights should be the cornerstone of any Conservative government.”

Mark Francois, the chair of the right-wing European Research Group (ERG), said the group would not back any new legislation that does not “fully respect the sovereignty of Parliament, with unambiguous wording”.

The ERG, an influential group among Brexit-supporting MPs, said they would only support the bill if it won the approval of the group’s “star chamber” of legal experts chaired by the veteran MP Bill Cash.

Former minister Tory MP Sir Simon Clarke said there was raw anger among his constituents about migration.

He said: “It cannot be the case that a human rights framework which was set up in the late 1940s, which could never have envisaged a world in which tens of thousands of people were coming to this country illegally and we were unable to deport them, is regarded as so sacrosanct that we can’t change it.”

Source : BBC