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Rishi Sunak Races to Secure Support for Controversial Rwanda Bill Ahead of Crucial Vote

The bill declares in UK law that Rwanda is a safe country for asylum seekers.

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is facing a critical challenge as he attempts to shore up support for the controversial Rwanda bill among right-wing MPs before a crucial vote. The legislation aims to revive the government’s plan to send certain asylum seekers to Rwanda, but internal divisions within the Conservative Party threaten to derail the PM’s flagship policy.

Sunak has engaged in efforts to persuade potential rebels within his party to back the bill, holding breakfast meetings with MPs at No 10. However, factions within the party have expressed divergent views on the legislation. Some right-wing members believe the bill needs to be tougher to ensure the effectiveness of the asylum scheme, while more liberal Tories warn against changes that could breach international law.

The bill, introduced to address legal concerns raised by the Supreme Court, declares in UK law that Rwanda is a safe country for asylum seekers. The Supreme Court had previously ruled the government’s plan unlawful, citing potential human rights breaches. The legislation aims to prevent legal challenges and grounding of flights for deportation reasons.

The vote, scheduled for 19:00 GMT, is crucial for Sunak’s authority, as a revolt by 29 Conservative MPs could defeat the bill at this early stage. The Labour Party and other opposition groups are already opposing the legislation. The internal dissent within the Conservative Party poses a significant challenge to Sunak, and failure to secure support could lead to a leadership crisis or even a general election.

Different factions within the party, such as the New Conservatives group and the European Research Group, have varying stances on the bill, demanding amendments or significant changes. The One Nation group, representing centrist Tories, recommends voting for the bill at this stage but warns against future amendments breaching the rule of law and international obligations.

The government has attempted to address concerns by publishing a summary of its legal advice on the scheme, arguing that individual challenges to deportation will be “exceptionally narrow” under the bill. However, critics contend that the proposed legislation still leaves room for legal challenges, potentially leading to court delays and complicating removal processes.

The outcome of the vote remains uncertain, with Sunak’s leadership and the fate of the Rwanda bill hanging in the balance.

Kiki Garba

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