Rishi Sunak will try to head off a mass revolt by right-wing Tory MPs against his Rwanda plan as he struggles to balance the competing demands of various Conservative factions.
Would-be rebels have warned the Prime Minister that “major intervention” is still needed to fix the flagship asylum law. Up to 40 MPs are prepared to either abstain or vote against the proposed law in the first vote in the lower house on Tuesday.
Around 20 members of the New Conservatives will attend a breakfast with Mr Sunak in Number 10 later this morning as ministers make a final attempt to win over their party colleagues and avert a humiliating second reading defeat.
The group, made up largely of 2019 MPs, warned on Monday that the bill “requires major surgery or replacement” after a meeting in backbencher Danny Kruger’s office, attended by former ministers Robert Jenrick and Suella Braverman.
In a bid to encourage the prime minister, One Nation moderates – around 100 MPs – said they would recommend supporting the bill after attending a meeting with Attorney-General Victoria Prentis.
But leader Damian Green also warned that his MPs would reject any amendments that risked the UK breaching the rule of law and its international obligations.
He said: “We support the bill as is, but if anyone proposes changes that breach our international obligations or the rule of law, we will vote against those changes in future stages.”
“We will vote with the government tomorrow, but we want the government to stand firm and stick to the text of this bill.”
Ministers are expected to continue making overtures throughout Tuesday, with a vote in the House of Commons not expected until the evening.
No government bill has passed second reading since the Shops Act 1986, but if all Labor and other opposition MPs voted against it, a revolt of 29 Tories would be enough to defeat it.
Tories with concerns could instead choose to abstain or support the bill at this stage, but then seek to tighten it up – or weaken it, depending on their views – as it progresses through the House of Commons.
A New Conservative spokesman said: “More than 40 colleagues met this evening to discuss the bill.
“All the panellists said the bill needs major surgery or replacement and they will make that clear to the Prime Minister at breakfast this morning and over the next 24 hours.”
Home Secretary James Cleverly used an article in the Telegraph to defend the plan overnight, writing: “After Brexit, the UK will be a fully sovereign country again – and of course we need to control our borders.” Anyone who agrees must support the Rwanda law.”
This came after he also addressed Tory MPs in another briefing on Monday afternoon. Shortly before, Conservative European Research Group backbencher Mark Francois called on the prime minister to “withdraw” the law after lawyers convened by the group deemed it an “incomplete” solution to the problems arising from small boat asylum claims.
The bill allows ministers to override the Human Rights Act, but does not go so far as to override the European Convention on Human Rights.
According to the government’s current assessment, only one in 200 cases will be able to avoid transfer to Rwanda once the draft law comes into force.
But critics of the plan dispute the Interior Ministry’s model of how effective it would be.
Mr Jenrick doubled down on his criticism of the plan in a post on social media: “If individual claims are allowed, everyone will file a claim, the backlog in the courts will swell, our detention capacity will be overwhelmed within days, people will be bailed released, and newcomers will simply flee.
“The bill is fundamentally flawed, both legally and operationally.”
Mr Sunak won the support of former Cabinet colleague Ben Wallace, who used an article in the Telegraph to warn his party against “ruining” the government over the issue.
The former defense minister said the vote should not become an “exercise in making the perfect (but unrealistic) the enemy of the good.”
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Source : www.newschainonline.com