Rishi Sunak faces the most dangerous week of his premiership as the fate of his flagship Rwanda Bill rests in the hands of two warring Tory factions.
The prime minister’s authority is at risk as tribes of the left and right hold separate meetings on Monday to consider whether they will support the embattled law in a crucial vote on Tuesday.
Brexit hardliners from the European Research Group and other camps on the conservative right will first hold a summit on legislation to revive his asylum policy.
Veteran MP Sir Bill Cash will present the findings of his so-called “star chamber” of lawyers, but he has already signaled that they do not believe the proposed law is suitable to kick-start the £290 million scheme bring.
The more moderate wing of the One Nation Conservatives will then hold a separate evening session in Parliament before releasing a statement on its ruling.
The Prime Minister will not be able to fully focus on uniting his fractured party as he spends Monday giving evidence to Britain’s Covid-19 inquiry, where he will be questioned about his controversial Eat Out to Help Out scheme.
Defense Secretary Grant Shapps defended the plan on the morning radio panel, insisting it would prevent the vast majority of attempts to go to the courts to avoid being sent to the African country.
He said the government currently expects only one in 200 cases will be accepted once the bill comes into force, after claiming the analysis was dated March.
Mr Shapps said: “As far as I know it is current… I don’t have the exact details to hand.”
However, critics of the plan rejected the Home Office’s model ideas about how effective it would be.
A senior Tory source said: “This is an outdated and analytically flawed model – from March – which came before defeats in the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court.” Number 10 fails to realize that the world has changed, and that is theirs fundamental problem.
“Modeling was never done for the new Rwanda law because there was a lack of planning. Even this old, optimistic model suggests that deporting a migrant could take more than two months. It would be ridiculous if it wasn’t so serious.”
Mr Shapps rejected claims that the Prime Minister’s leadership was in chaos, telling BBC Breakfast: “A third down in terms of transitions… the fact is we are succeeding at that.”
The government has insisted the Rwanda program, which would see UK asylum seekers deported to Kigali, is a key part of Mr Sunak’s plan to “stop the boats” by acting as a deterrent to people crossing the English Channel want to cross.
However, the Home Office has committed at least £700 million to managing migrant arrivals on small boats by 2030, with the option to extend contracts until 2034, according to commercial plans highlighted by the BBC.
The money will be used to run the Western Jet Foil facility in Dover and the reception center at the former Manston airfield in Kent.
A Home Office model seen by The Times newspaper, which suggests 99.5% of individual legal challenges lodged by asylum seekers will not block their deportation under the law, is being used by the government to counter claims from right-wing critics.
The Prime Minister has tried to find a middle ground as he responded to the Supreme Court ruling that his plan to ban asylum seekers arriving in the UK on small boats was unlawful.
His bill allows ministers to override the Human Rights Act, but does not go so far as to override the European Convention on Human Rights.
The proposed legislation aims to allow Parliament to consider Rwanda a “safe” country and prevent courts from considering claims that the country will not act in accordance with the Refugee Convention or other international obligations.
Some on the right believe more radical measures are needed to override international law, while moderates have concerns about its legal implications and are instructing courts to consider Rwanda a “safe” country.
Mr Sunak has told MPs the Conservatives must “unite or die”, but it is unclear whether they will heed his warnings as some of his possible successors are in the spotlight.
Robert Jenrick, who resigned as immigration minister over the law, told the BBC on Sunday he would not support the “weak bill that will not work.”
But he said, “We can fix this,” and raised the possibility that he, along with other opponents, could abstain from voting before attempting to change the legislation at a later date.
Tuesday is the first opportunity for the House of Commons to vote on the bill in a so-called second reading.
A government bill at this point has not been defeated since 1986, but Tory MPs could abstain or try to rewrite it at a later date.
However, Mr Sunak only needs a revolt by 28 Conservatives to destroy his majority as Labor will vote against it.
Defeat would destroy the prime minister’s authority, but One Nation leader Damian Green said any Conservative who thinks they need to change the leader is “either crazy or malicious or both”.
Conservative former attorney general Lord Garnier, who did the legal work for the group, has compared the bill to the “all dogs are cats” ruling and claimed Rwanda is safe.
He plans to fight it in the House of Lords, where Mr Sunak’s fight is likely to be even tougher, and has described it as political and legal “nonsense”.
Mr Shapps acknowledged on Monday that the bill could face problems in the Upper House but insisted it would “absolutely” pass through the Commons but that “sometimes you have to fight through these things”.
Due to interim orders from Strasbourg, the government has only a “maximum 50 percent” chance of successfully suspending flights to Kigali next year, according to a legal assessment.
A No 10 source agreed with Mr Sunak, saying there was only an “inch” between current policy and a repeal of elements of the European Convention on Human Rights, which he said would result in the Rwandan government rejecting it.
“This is the strongest law possible to empower Rwanda,” they added.
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Source : www.newschainonline.com