PM faces Conservative rebellions over small boat legislation ahead of Commons return

Rishi Sunak faces potential Conservative rebellions over his illegal migration bill as lawmakers prepare to go over the legislation line by line.

Controversial legislation designed to stop migrants crossing the English Channel in small boats returns to the House of Commons for its committee stage on Monday.

The Prime Minister faces objections to the terms of the bill from two wings of his party, both the liberal and the right.

Right-wing MPs have pointed out that it does not go far enough, with some calling on ministers to take the UK out of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) to push for tighter border controls.

Others in the liberal wing want Sunak to commit to establishing safe routes through which asylum seekers can reach Britain.

Under the proposed legislation, asylum seekers arriving by unauthorized means would be held without bail or judicial review for 28 days before being “expeditiously removed” to their country of origin or to a “safe third country” such as Rwanda. .

In preparation for two days of debates over the small boat law, dozens of would-be Tory rebels have put their names on amendments designed to tighten rules on blocking deportations and housing migrants in Britain.

As of Sunday, about 30 Tories had put their names on an amendment to the bill that would prevent the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) from stopping expulsions.

It comes after the European Court of Human Rights last year granted an injunction, through its Rule 39, that effectively grounded a flight sending UK asylum seekers to Rwanda.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman has been in what she called “constructive” negotiations with the Strasbourg court to secure a higher legal threshold for any Rule 39 injunction to be imposed on any future deportation flight.

Migrant Channel crossing incidents
The Illegal Migration Bill is designed to crack down on small ships crossing the Canal (Gareth Fuller/PA)

It is understood that the discussions also involved the European court taking into account the decision of the UK High Court when considering any future Rule 39 orders.

In an amendment sponsored by Tory Devizes MP Danny Kruger, he wants the bill’s provisions “to operate despite orders from the Strasbourg court or any other international body.”

Former minister Andrea Jenkyns, one of its sponsors, tweeted that she had signed amendments intended to “strengthen the bill and stop European Court of Human Rights laws superseding UK law.”

On Sky News’ Sophy Ridge On Sunday programme, Leveling-Up secretary Michael Gove was asked if the government would consider the rebels’ ECHR amendment.

It follows reports that Downing Street officials are preparing to meet a band of rebels on Monday to discuss their concerns over the legislation.

Gove suggested that Home Office ministers were open to further talks about the strength of the bill.

Suella Braverman visits Rwanda
Home Secretary Suella Braverman recently returned from a trip to Rwanda, where Britain wants to send migrants entering the country illegally (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

He said: “I know the immigration minister, Robert Jenrick, has been working incredibly hard to make sure this legislation works, he’s been talking to MPs who may be in a position to ensure that all aspects of this bill work. ”.

Downing Street said Sunak continues to engage with MPs on proposed legislation.

An Interior Ministry source said the legislation contains a “marker clause” relating to ECtHR deportation orders.

The clause is understood to allow initial negotiations with Strasbourg to conclude before ministers consider further legal measures.

Sunak and Braverman have stressed that they believe the bill complies with international obligations and that Britain would not need to exit the European Convention on Human Rights to submit the plans.

But in a letter to MPs following the bill’s publication earlier this month, the Home Secretary admitted there is a “more than 50% chance” that his legislation would not be compatible with the convention.

Separately, Tory MP Tim Loughton has proposed an amendment that would require the Home Secretary to declare “safe and legal pathways by which asylum seekers can enter” the UK.

It has been signed by former Brexit secretary David Davis and Dame Diana Johnson, Labor’s chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee.


Leave a Reply