Rishi Sunak – live: PM faces showdown vote on Rwanda migration plan as Tory revolt grows

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Rishi Sunak faces a showdown vote on his flagship Rwanda plan next week, as a Tory revolt on the issue grows.

The PM’s premiership has been rocked by the resignation of immigration minister Robert Jenrick, as he failed to appease the Tory right with his emergency Rwanda bill.

There is growing speculation that Mr Sunak will have to make next week’s vote a confidence issue in the government – threatening his MPs with expulsion if they defy him and help force a general election.

A tetchy Mr Sunak denied that he was ready to make it “back me or sack me” vote at his hastily convened press conference on the growing crisis on Thursday.

However, the embattled Tory leader appeared to appeal to Labour to help him push through his bill in parliament.

“The real question, when it comes to all these votes, if for the Labour Party,” Mr Sunak said: said. “So the real question when it comes to parliament … what are the Labour Party going to do about this vote?”

Key Points

  • Sunak begs Labour to back Rwanda plan and he insists Tories not a ‘joke’

  • Sunak holding press conference on Rwanda bill crisis

  • Jenrick quits, says bill is ‘triumph of hope over experience’

  • Braverman: Tories face ‘electoral oblivion’ if boats not stopped

  • Government produces new bill in bid to fix Rwanda plan

Tory minister defends middle finger social media jibe at Labour

11:54 , Matt Mathers

A Conservative minister has defended his party’s social media strategy after Tory MPs joined criticism of a post attacking Labour with an image of a BBC News presenter giving the middle finger live on air.

In footage from a BBC news bulletin on Wednesday, chief presenter Maryam Moshiri was seen raising her middle finger to the camera just as the broadcast began.

The on-air blunder attracted considerable attention and prompted an apology from the BBC presenter.

On Thursday the Conservatives used the image on X – formerly known as Twitter – to mock Sir Keir Starmer’s party.

Newly-appointed legal migration minister Tom Pursglove defended his party on Friday.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I’ve not spent an awful amount of time on Twitter in the last 24 hours as you’ll imagine, having just been appointed yesterday and trying to immerse myself in all of the detail.

“But the bottom line is it does highlight the fact that the Labour Party doesn’t have a credible alternative.”

Conservative MP for Corby Tom Pursglove (PA)
Conservative MP for Corby Tom Pursglove (PA)

Lord Frost urges Tory MPs to replace Rishi Sunak or face ‘electoral car crash’

11:37 , Matt Mathers

Lord Frost has said Tory MPs should replace Rishi Sunak as leader, urging them to consider whether the “current path can take us to an election win”.

The former Brexit secretary called on Conservatives not to “resign themselves to the coming electoral car crash, and if they do not believe in the PM to “be doing something about it”.

Archie Mitchell reports:

Lord Frost urges Tory MPs to replace Rishi Sunak or face ‘electoral car crash’

Bill won’t stop ‘litany’ of legal claims - Jenrick

11:15 , Matt Mathers

Departed immigration minister Robert Jenrick believes that the government’s draft Rwanda law will be open to a “litany” of legal challenges.

“His view is it will be besieged by a litany of individual petitioners,” a source close to the Newark MP told The DailyTelegraph.

Mr Jenrick quit his government role on Wednesday in protest at the bill, saying that it was a “triumph of hope over experience”.

You can read his resignation letter in full below:

Robert Jenrick’s resignation letter as immigration minister quits over Rwanda plan

Labour lead unchanged at 23 points - poll

11:00 , Matt Mathers

Labour’s lead over the Conservatives remains unchanged at 23 points, according to a poll.

A YouGov poll for The Times found both parties’ support unchanged from last week, with the opposition on 45 per cent and the Tories on 22 per cent.

The survey was carried out on 5 and 6 December after home secretary James Cleverly signed a new treaty with Rwanda.

It showed the Lib Dems and Reform UK were up 1 point while the Greens were also unchanged on 7 per cent.

 (The Times/YouGov)
(The Times/YouGov)

Tory MPs must ‘rally around and support’ the Rwanda bill, minister says

10:44 , Matt Mathers

Tory MPs must “rally around and support” the Rwanda bill, a government minister has said after suggesting Downing Street was open to amendments from rebels.

“The legislation that we’ve put in place disapplies so many of the grounds that have been relevant to people lodging claims,” Tom Pursglove, minister for legal migration and delivery, told Times Radio.

He added: “Parliament will be able to assert that we consider Rwanda to be a safe country, which will then stop this constant merry go round of opining on that particular point.

“So I do believe actually this is very significant legislation. It’s the strongest piece of a legal migration legislation there has ever been.

“And what I want to see is Conservative MPs to rally around to support it. And I would hope that colleagues across the House will as well.”

Earlier Mr Pulsgrove signalled that ministers could be open to compromises with rebel Tory MPs over Rishi Sunak’s contested Rwanda legislation.

ICYMI: Tories slammed for making migration meme out of BBC presenter giving middle finger

10:17 , Matt Mathers

The Conservative Party has been told to “grow up” after it tried to make a meme out of a swearing BBC presenter to criticise Labour on immigration.

On Wednesday Maryam Moshiri, one of the broadcaster’s chief presenters, could be seen holding up her middle finger to the camera as she came back on screen for the midday bulletin. Ms Moshiri quickly realises she is live and swipes her hand away in a flash before going on to read out the headlines about Boris Johnson at the Covid Inquiry.

Barney Davis reports:

Tories slammed for making migration meme out of BBC presenter giving middle finger

‘I can retrieve Boris’s missing WhatsApp messages’ claims former friend Jennifer Arcuri

09:56 , Matt Mathers

Jennifer Arcuri, an old friend of Boris Johnson who has a cybersecurity company in the UK, claims she can retrieve WhatsApp messages the former prime minister told the Covid inquiry had been lost.

Mr Johnson this week failed to provide the Covid inquiry with communications from February to June 2020 and denied that he had deleted them.

But  Ms Arcuri, who claimed to have an affair with Mr Johnson, which he denied, told GB News: “I have a cybersecurity company in the UK which I’ve run for many years. Most of the people running the cybersecurity industry in the UK I’ve either worked with directly or are familiar with me.

“But most importantly, they are familiar with my team’s work. So I think I need to stress a few points here that we are kind of glossing over. Information in your phone is not just stored on an app, it’s actually stored throughout the hardware and the operating system.”

She added: “There are data stores throughout both and frequently that means that when information is deleted, a person can recover this information. So we would use our team’s technical abilities to recover and re-evaluate all that data.”

Boris Johnson and Jennifer Arcuri (PA/Getty)
Boris Johnson and Jennifer Arcuri (PA/Getty)

Sunak was warned Rwanda bill was at risk of failing

09:30 , Matt Mathers

Two senior lawyers warned Rishi Sunak that his draft Rwanda law “provides an easy” way for migrants to avoid deportation.

The prime minister was told the scheme would be hit by legal challenges and at risk of failing, according to the Times.

The paper reported that legal advice from a senior government lawyer warned “the scheme would be seriously impeded” if the bill did not include a so-called ­“ouster clause” that barred individual legal challenges.

 (PA)
(PA)

No timetable for Rwanda bill getting through parliament

09:12 , Matt Mathers

Legal migration minister Tom Pursglove was unable to offer a timetable for when the Rwanda legislation would get through parliament.

Even if rushed through the Commons, it is expected to face serious opposition within the House of Lords.

The minister told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “You’ve got to have consideration in both Houses of Parliament and that does take some time.

“The whips and the leader of the house will come forward in terms of setting out a timetable by which we will seek to do this.

“I want to see this legislation delivered as quickly as possible.”

File photo: Tom Pursglove answers questions in the House of Commons (PA)
File photo: Tom Pursglove answers questions in the House of Commons (PA)

Olive branch as MPs offered chance to amend Rwanda bill

08:40 , Matt Mathers

Legal migration minister Tom Pursglove signalled that ministers could be open to compromises with rebel Tory MPs over Rishi Sunak’s contested Rwanda legislation, Archie Mitchell reports.

It is an olive branch which means MPs could seek to make amendments to the bill after having voted for it, which could ease the scale of any rebellion over the plans.

Mr Pursglove told Sky News: “There will be parliamentary debates, there will be opportunities for people to bring amendments, the House will consider them in the normal way and as ministers we will engage constructively with parliamentarians around any concerns that they have and handle that in the way that we would any other piece of legislation.”

Sunak hit by ‘18 no confidence letters'

08:21 , Matt Mathers

Eighteen Tories have reportedly submitted letters of no confidence in Rishi Sunak as the prime minister faces a civil war over his Rwanda deal.

One rebel told the Daily Mirror they personally knew the names of 18 MPs who had already put in letters of no confidence - even before Robert Jenrick resigned as immigration minister.

Sunak published a draft bill earlier this week which he claimed would fix the Rwanda deal but it has failed to satisfy both rightwingers and more moderate Tory MPs.

Government minister defends cost of Rwanda deal

08:17 , Matt Mathers

Legal migration minister Tom Pursglove has defended the cost of the Rwanda plan after it emerged the cost of the scheme has already reached £240 million.

The newly appointed minister told Times Radio: “We’ve always been clear that this is an economic and migration partnership. We want to support economic development in Rwanda. And of course, there are quite understandably obligations on us to work with Rwanda to make sure that all of the right infrastructure to support the partnership is in place.

“We are going about this work in a constructive way. Part of that money is helpful in making sure that we can respond to the issues properly that the Supreme Court raised, making sure that the capacity is in place to administer the partnership at the first possible opportunity.

“And I think it’s right that we go about this in the way that we are and when you consider that we’re spending £8 million a day currently in the asylum system you have to look at those spends in that context. That is not sustainable.

“And the Rwanda partnership is a key plank in our answer to getting those costs down.”

 (screen grab)
(screen grab)

Lord Cameron backs Rwanda deal

07:59 , Matt Mathers

Foreign secretary Lord David Cameron expressed his support for Rishi Sunak over the prime minister’s Rwanda plan, branding it “the right package” despite opposition from hardline Tories.

At a press conference during his trip to the US, he said: “Let me be clear, I support what the government is doing to deal with illegal migration… I think the prime minister has done a good job at coming up with the right package, a treaty with Rwanda that only a couple of weeks ago everyone thought would be impossible, it wouldn’t happen.

“It has happened and it’s a very good treaty. A bill has been published and will be introduced to the House of Commons and a pack of evidence about the true nature of what happens in Rwanda is being put together. I’ve seen that myself and I think it’s very convincing and will overcome the arguments put in the Supreme Court.”

Lord Cameron of Chipping Norton (PA Wire)
Lord Cameron of Chipping Norton (PA Wire)

ICYMI | Rishi Sunak pleads with Tory rebels: Back my Rwanda plan

07:27 , Matt Mathers

Rishi Sunak is fighting to save his flagship Rwanda policy – and his premiership – after a desperate defence of his new deportation bill failed to stop a growing revolt by Tory MPs on both sides of the party.

The beleaguered PM dodged questions about whether he could be forced to call a general election if he cannot get the bill through parliament, in the most significant political crisis he has faced at No 10.

Adam Forrest and Kate Devlin report:

Embattled Sunak pleads with Tory rebels: Back my Rwanda plan

Cost of Rwanda deal will rise to £290m - Home Office

07:22 , Matt Mathers

Rishi Sunak is facing fresh pressure over his beleaguered Rwanda policy after it emerged the cost of the scheme has already reached £240 million, despite it never being used.

The government spent a further £100 million in the 2023-24 financial year while flights remained grounded amid a series of legal setbacks, on top of the £140 million previously paid out.

According to a letter from the Home Office to committee chairs, ministers expect a further £50 million cost in the coming year, which would bring the total to £290 million.

In a letter published on Thursday to Dame Diana Johnson, chairwoman of the Home Affairs Committee, and Dame Meg Hillier, chairwoman of the Public Accounts Committee, Home Office official Matthew Rycroft wrote: “Ministers have agreed that I can disclose now the payments so far in the 2023-24 financial year. There has been one payment of £100 million, paid in April this year as part of the Economic Transformation and Integration Fund mentioned above.

“The UK government has not paid any more to the government of Rwanda thus far. This was entirely separate to the treaty – the government of Rwanda did not ask for any payment in order for a treaty to be signed, nor was any offered.”

Labour branded the revelation “incredible”, with shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper saying: “How many more blank cheques will Rishi Sunak write before the Tories come clean about this scheme being a total farce?

“Britain simply can’t afford more of this costly chaos from the Conservatives.”

Archie Mitchell reports:

Rishi Sunak’s Rwanda plan has cost £290m - without a single flight taking off

Sunak’s asylum plans a ‘dark day’ for Britain, warns Yousaf

Thursday 7 December 2023 15:30 , Matt Mathers

The UK government’s immigration plans are a “real dark day” for the country, Scotland’s first minister said as he accused the prime minister of dismantling asylum processes.

Humza Yousaf, whose grandfather came to Scotland from Pakistan in the 1960s to work in a sewing machine factory in Clydebank, addressed the issue during First Minister’s Questions on Thursday.

It came as Scottish Conservative leader and Moray MP Douglas Ross told journalists in Holyrood he plans to back the UK Government’s Bill declaring Rwanda a safe destination for asylum seekers.

Full report:

Sunak’s asylum plans a ‘dark day’ for Britain, warns Yousaf

‘Completely ridiculous’ to replace Sunak, admits right-wing Tory

Thursday 7 December 2023 15:15 , Matt Mathers

Some right-wingers have said the Rwanda bill could be “existential” for Rishi Sunak’s leadership. But right-wing Brexiteer Sir Edward Leigh – unhappy with the bill – said replacing him would look “completely ridiculous”, Adam Forrest reports.

Sir Edward told Channel 4 News: “As regards Rishi’s future I’m totally opposed to any change of leader because it would make us look completely ridiculous. We’ve just got to get the bill right.”

Disappointed that the bill allows for legal challenges, he added: “I’m sure the bill is good enough to win through in the courts, but the problem is there are just endless delays so there won’t be any flights to Rwanda before the next election.”

Sir Edward Leigh (YouTube / Sky News)
Sir Edward Leigh (YouTube / Sky News)

Dominic Cummings: Sunak’s position on Rwanda now ‘pure farce'

Thursday 7 December 2023 15:05 , Matt Mathers

Former No 10 strategist Dominic Cummings said Rishi Sunak’s position on Rwanda was now “pure farce”, Adam Forrest reports.

“Sunak tells voters he can only bring in laws if *Rwanda* approves! great ammo for the ECHR campaign to come!” he said.

Some rightwing Tories are calling for  Mr Sunak to pull out of the ECHR but the PM has so far refused to do so.

Moderate Conservatives say pulling out of the convention, which the UK helped to draft, would be a red line.

‘Insanity’ to have another leadership contest before general election - Tory chair

Thursday 7 December 2023 14:52 , Matt Mathers

It would be “insanity” for the Tories to have another leadership contest before the next general election, the party’s chairman has said.

Richard Holden, the Cabinet Office minister without portfolio, made the comment to journalists at a press gallery lunch in parliament.

Mr Holden was promoted to the chair role in Mr Sunak’s reshuffle last month.

Richard Holden (Andrew Matthews/PA) (PA Wire)
Richard Holden (Andrew Matthews/PA) (PA Wire)

Tory right to deliver verdict on Rwanda bill before Tuesday’s vote

Thursday 7 December 2023 14:45 , Matt Mathers

One group of lawyers inspecting Rishi Sunak’s Rwanda legislation are expected to return their judgment to the Conservative Party’s right wing ahead of Tuesday’s vote.

European Research Group chairman and MP Mark Francois said: “We all agree with the prime minister that we need to stop the boats but the legislation to do this must be assuredly fit for purpose.

“To that end...spoke with Sir Bill Cash, who confirmed his star chamber team are already analysing the Rwanda Bill, in detail.

“This may still take a few days to complete but he was confident their findings will be available, at the very latest, prior to the second reading debate on Tuesday.”

European Research Group chairman Mark Francois declined to say how members will vote on the Stormont brake (Gareth Fuller/PA) (PA Archive)
European Research Group chairman Mark Francois declined to say how members will vote on the Stormont brake (Gareth Fuller/PA) (PA Archive)

Asylum seekers can still go to European court, says ex-government legal chief

Thursday 7 December 2023 14:30 , Matt Mathers

The respected Institute for Government think tank has shared analysis by Sir Jonathan Jones – the former government legal chief – who said the Rwanda bill would stop most legal challenges to deportations, but not all of them.

And Mr Jones said asylum seekers would still be able to make claims to the European court in Strasbourg. He said Clause 4 allows claims to be made by asylum seekers “based on compelling evidence relating specifically to the person’s individual circumstances”.

The legal expert said: “What the bill cannot do is prevent claimants going to the European court of human rights in Strasbourg if they have been unable to enforce their rights in the domestic courts.

“The Strasbourg court would not be bound by the UK-Rwanda treaty or by the UK legislation. It would perform its own assessment, on the latest evidence available, as to whether there was a breach of the ECHR.”

Sunak now almost as unpopular as Tory Party

Thursday 7 December 2023 14:15 , Matt Mathers

Rishi Sunak is now almost as unpopular as his party after a year of deteriorating polling numbers, Adam Forrest reports.

Having entered Downing Street considerably more popular than the wider Conservative Party, 52 per cent of voters now say they have an unfavourable view of the prime minister, according to a poll published by Ipsos UK on Thursday.

At the start of the year, 39 per cent of voters told Ipsos they had an unfavourable view of Mr Sunak, compared to 51 per cent saying the same about the Conservative Party.

The figure for the wider party has barely changed, rising slightly to 54 per cent in November, while Mr Sunak’s favourability rating has collapsed.

Keiran Pedley, director of politics at Ipsos, said: “A year of public concern about the cost of living, NHS and immigration now means Mr Sunak is almost as unpopular as the party he leads as he grapples with how to turn their collective fortune around in 2024.”

Rishi Sunak declined to say whether he will call an election if his Bill is defeated (PA) (PA Wire)
Rishi Sunak declined to say whether he will call an election if his Bill is defeated (PA) (PA Wire)

One Nation Tories ‘very nervous’ about Rwanda bill

Thursday 7 December 2023 14:02 , Matt Mathers

Tories on the moderate One Nation wing of the party are “very nervous” about the implications of Rishi Sunak’s Rwanda legislation, a source in the group said, Adam Forrest reports.

The group – which boasts about 100 MPs – has been discussing concerns including that courts cannot override the declaration of the bill that it is a safe country.

The Conservative MPs are yet to have come to a conclusion after hearing the preliminary findings of former solicitor-general Lord Edward Garnier.

Showdown vote on Rwanda bill will happen on Tuesday

Thursday 7 December 2023 13:52 , Matt Mathers

Commons leader Penny Mordaunt has confirmed that Rishi Sunak’s emergency legislation will be debated by MPs for the first time next Tuesday, Adam Forrest reports.

It means the first, all-important vote will happen then. The cabinet minister said it was a “moral crusade to use every single tool that we have to end trafficking of human beings”.

“It does not break international law nor does it blur the distinction between law-makers and those that interpret the law,” she added.

Commons Leader Penny Mordaunt (Peter Byrne/PA) (PA Wire)
Commons Leader Penny Mordaunt (Peter Byrne/PA) (PA Wire)

Attorney general won’t publish legal advice on Rwanda bill

Thursday 7 December 2023 13:42 , Matt Mathers

The Tory attorney general Victoria Prentis has refused to publish any legal advice on Rishi Sunak’s emergency Rwanda law, Adam Forrest reports.

Pushed on the issue in the Commons, she said: “I can’t give the details of the legal advice that I have been giving the government – or whether or not I have been giving such advice – from this despatch box and that remains the case.

The Tory moderate – believed to have resisted push from Robert Jenrick to opt out of the ECHR – said: “I remain very comfortable in my role and I will hope that I remain in this role to give the government legal advice for a long time to come.”

Victoria Prentis, the government’s top law officer (James Manning/PA) (PA Wire)
Victoria Prentis, the government’s top law officer (James Manning/PA) (PA Wire)

Sunak is ‘lame duck’ PM who has lost control, say opposition

Thursday 7 December 2023 13:35 , Matt Mathers

The Liberal Democrats accused Rishi Sunak of being a “lame duck” prime minister after his “new low” press conference pleading for votes on his Rwanda bill, Adam Forrest reports.

Daisy Cooper, the party’s deputy leader, said: “This is desperate stuff from a lame-duck who has lost control of his party.

“Rishi Sunak needs to call an election now so we can end this Conservative chaos and put this government out of its misery.”

From Eat Out to Help Out to ‘let it rip’: The key Covid revelations from Boris Johnson today

Thursday 7 December 2023 13:20 , Matt Mathers

Boris Johnson fell silent for three minutes at the Covid inquiry on Thursday morning as he was confronted by all the times he talked about “letting it rip” through the population.

The former prime minister has been in largely good spirits responding to questioning from Hugo Keith KC, the probe’s lead counsel.

Archie Mitchell reports:

From Eat Out to Help Out to ‘let it rip’: The key Covid revelations today

As a member of ‘polite society’, Ms Braverman, I won’t call you dishonest – but you are wrong

Thursday 7 December 2023 13:00 , Matt Mathers

As a fully-paid up member of “polite society”, I ought to be deeply offended by Suella Braverman’s divisive, poisonous politics, writes Sean O’Grady.

Well, I am. What’s a bit more perplexing, in fact, is that she claims that she’s just telling it like it is, and if her “honesty… upsets polite society, then I’m sorry about that.

Read Sean’s full piece here:

Why Suella Braverman has got it all wrong | Sean O’Grady

Rishi Sunak is running scared from his zombie administration

Thursday 7 December 2023 12:40 , Matt Mathers

Robert Jenrick’s resignation and salvos from Suella Braverman mean the prime minister faces a real threat of being brought down by his own side, says Paul Clements.

Read Paul’s full piece here:

Rishi Sunak is running scared from his zombie administration

Sunak: I’ll do ‘what is necessary’ to get flights airborne if court intervenes

Thursday 7 December 2023 12:30 , Matt Mathers

In his speech Rishi Sunak said he would do “what is necessary” to get flights airborne if Strasbourg intervened, Kate Devlin reports.

The prime minister did not go into details on what that might mean, however.

But government sources pointed to the Rwandan government’s insistence that anything incompatible with international law could collapse the scheme.

Sunak insists Tories not a ‘joke’ on Rwanda as PM forced to plead with Labour to back plan

Thursday 7 December 2023 12:12 , Matt Mathers

Rishi Sunak has denied his government has become a “joke” and a “laughing stock” over his failed Rwanda plan – but appeared to plead with Labour to back his under-threat legislative plan.

The PM’s premiership has been rocked by the resignation of immigration minister Robert Jenrick, as he failed to appease the Tory right with his emergency Rwanda bill.

Mr Sunak claimed there was only “an inch” between him and MPs on the right of the party – but hardliners remain furious that he chose not to opt out of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR).

Adam Forrest and Kate Devlin report.

Sunak denies Tory government is ‘joke’ and ‘laughing stock’

Thursday 7 December 2023 11:44 , Matt Mathers

Rishi Sunak has denied his government is a “joke” over his stop the boats pledge and insisted it was “doing what we’re saying we’re going to do” on Rwanda, Adam Forrest reports.

Asked if his government is a “joke” and a “laughing stock” on Rwanda and immigration, Mr Sunak replied: “Look at the results. You’ve been over in Calais, well the number of people crossing from France to the UK this year is down by a third, right? That’s the simple truth.”

He added: “I’m absolutely confident it’s the right approach, it’s the toughest ever approach... Going any further would mean that Rwanda will collapse the scheme and then we will have nowhere to send anyone to.”

 (PA)
(PA)

Sunak says former Supreme Court judge thinks bill will work

Thursday 7 December 2023 11:31 , Matt Mathers

Rishi Sunak said a former Supreme Court judge believes the government’s new immigration law will work, as the PM said: “We’ve got to end the legal merry go round”, Adam Forrest reports.

“Lord Sumption, the former Supreme Court judge, believes this Bill will work,” he said. “We will get flights off the ground, we will deter illegal migrants from coming in and we will finally stop the boats.”

Lord Sumption told the BBC earlier that if the government said Rwanda is safe through legislation, the courts “have got to treat it as safe, whether it is or not”.

Robert Jenrick ‘not right’ that bill will fail, says Sunak

Thursday 7 December 2023 11:22 , Matt Mathers

In his scathing resignation letter, Robert Jenrick made clear he wanted to bypass the ECHR – calling the bill “a triumph of hope over experience”, Adam Forrest reports.

Asked if his exiting immigration minister was right, Rishi Sunak said: “He’s simply not right actually … I’m am entirely confident that what we’re doing is the right approach.”

The Tory leader said it was the “toughest legislation that has ever been passed on this issue”.

Sunak won’t expel Tory MPs voting against Rwanda bill

Thursday 7 December 2023 11:20 , Matt Mathers

Rishi Sunak has said he will not expel right-wing Tory MPs voting against his Rwanda bill next week – rejecting speculation he will make it a confidence vote in the government, Adam Forrest reports.

Asked if he was telling his MPs “back me or sack”, Mr Sunak initially refused to say whether next week’s showdown vote on the bill would be a confidence vote in his government. “What I’m saying, not just to MPs but to the country, is, ‘I share their frustration’,” he said.

Asked again if it would be a confidence vote and whether would expel Tory MPs who vote against it, Mr Sunak said: “No … But what this vote is about is confidence in parliament to show it gets the British people’s frustration.”

Sunak insists bill will stop ‘merry-go-round’ of legal challenges

Thursday 7 December 2023 11:19 , Matt Mathers

Sunak insists that his Rwanda bill will stop the “merry-go-round” of legal challenges stopping flights taking off.

He claims the legislation adequately responds to concerns raised by the Supreme Court and that Rwanda is now “unequivocally” a safe country.

Illegal migration undermines British sense of ‘fairness’ - Sunak

Thursday 7 December 2023 11:13 , Matt Mathers

He goes on to say that illegal migration “undermines not just our border controls, it undermines the very sense of fairness that is so central to our sense of national character”.

PM adds that Britons play by the rules, put in their “fair share” and “wait our turn”.

“Now if some people can just cut all of that out, you’ve not just lost control of your borders, you’ve fatally undermined the very fairness upon which trust is built in our system.”

‘My family came here legally'

Thursday 7 December 2023 11:08 , Matt Mathers

PM tells reporters that, as the child of immigrants, he “understands” why people decide to make the treacherous journey across the Channel.

He says people come because the UK is a great place, offering “opportunity, hope and safety”.

“But the difference is my family came here legally”, he adds.

Sunak: Bill is toughest-ever anti-illegal migration plan

Thursday 7 December 2023 11:05 , Matt Mathers

Sunak starts by saying the government has published the toughest ever anti-illegal migration law.

He says he accepts the plan will upset some people and that people would “hear a lot of criticism about it”

“So it’s right” that “I explain why I have decided to do this”.

Watch: Sunak gives update on Rwanda plan

Thursday 7 December 2023 10:57 , Matt Mathers

Rishi Sunak is about to give a press conference on his Rwanda plan.

The prime minister was hit with a resignation last night after the government published legislation it claimed would get flights taking off.

But critics say the bill does not go far enough and the plan to deport asylum seekers will still be open to legal challenges.

We’ll bring you text updates from the press conference - you can also watch it live on The Independent’s YouTube channel:

Live: Prime minister Rishi Sunak holds surprise press conference amid Rwanda immigration row

Sunak creates new minister for ‘illegal migration’ after Jenrick exit

Thursday 7 December 2023 10:54 , Matt Mathers

Rishi Sunak has split ministerial responsibility for legal and illegal migration as he replaced Robert Jenrick.

Michael Tomlinson will be the illegal migration minister in the Home Office, and will also attend cabinet.

Tom Pursglove will be the minister for legal migration and delivery in the Home Office.

Robert Courts replaces Mr Tomlinson as solicitor general.

Tom Pursglove (screen grab)
Tom Pursglove (screen grab)

Rishi Sunak faces grilling at Covid inquiry next week

Thursday 7 December 2023 10:46 , Matt Mathers

Embattled Tory leader Rishi Sunak will be grilled about his actions during the Covid pandemic when he appears before the public inquiry on Monday.

The PM is fighting to save his premiership after resignation of immigration minister Robert Jenrick, as he failed to appease the Tory right with his Rwanda legislation.

Adam Forrest reports:

Rishi Sunak faces grilling at Covid inquiry next week

Rishi Sunak will not lead us into election - anonymous Tory MP

Thursday 7 December 2023 10:29 , Matt Mathers

Amid reports that Conservative MPs have been submitting no-confidence letters, one MP has reportedly said Rishi Sunak would not lead the party into the next election.

“Rishi Sunak will not lead us into a general election,” the anonymous Tory MP told Mail on Sunday commentator Dan Hodges.

Under Tory Party rules, some 15 per cent (53) of the party’s MPs would need to send in letters of no confidence in Mr Sunak to trigger a contest.

Could Sunak threaten to call general election?

Thursday 7 December 2023 10:18 , Matt Mathers

Rishi Sunak is reportedly ready to threaten to call an election if right-wing Tory MPs vote against his new Rwanda legislation, Adam Forrest reports.

The PM is considering making the vital showdown on the legislation next week – with a vote expected on Tuesday – a confidence issue, according to reports.

Convention dictates that the PM would either resign or dissolving parliament and call an election if he loses such a vote.

However, No 10 sources have denied that next week’s showdown vote will be treated as a confidence vote in the government.

Sunak to give press conference on Rwanda bill crisis

Thursday 7 December 2023 10:13 , Matt Mathers

Rishi Sunak will hold a press conference at 11am this morning as he faces a growing crisis over his emergency Rwanda legislation, Adam Forrest reports.

No 10 is said to be increasingly worried by the number of no-confidence letters being submitted by Tory MPs, and it remains uncertain that he can push through his bill amid a growing Tory revolt on the right.

We’ll bring you live updates from the press conference once it starts.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is under pressure from different wings of the party over Rwanda (Daniel Leal/PA) (PA Wire)
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is under pressure from different wings of the party over Rwanda (Daniel Leal/PA) (PA Wire)

Braverman: No one is talking about leadership challenege

Thursday 7 December 2023 09:47 , Matt Mathers

Some more comments now from Suella Braverman’s interview with Radio 4 earlier this morning.

The former home secretary, sacked in a cabinet reshuffle last month, insisted that none of her colleagues were talking about a leadership challenge to Rishi Sunak after she denied trying to oust him by spreading “poison” within the party.

“No one’s talking about leadership, or changing leadership,” she insisted, adding that she was fully behind Mr Sunak if he could fix the Rwanda deal.

 (PA)
(PA)

Tory moderate suggests he may not back bill – says Rwanda ‘ripping’ party apart

Thursday 7 December 2023 09:26 , Matt Mathers

Senior moderate Tobias Ellwood told Times Radio that he will not support the Rwanda bill if there is “any prospect” of breaking the international laws the UK itself helped craft, Adam Forrest reports.

Mr Ellwood said the row over Rwanda was “ripping our party in half”. He said: “Rwanda has become almost totemic, if you like, that hill that we have to die on.”

The senior Tory added: “If this infighting continues, it will not just cost us the next general election, it will see our party splinter into two between the centre right and the far right.”

Warning that some moderates may not back the bill, Mr Ellwood said: “We helped craft the ECHR. We were the ones that crafted most of the laws, international laws after the Second World War. We uphold international law. We don’t break it.”

Conservative MP and chair of the defence select committee Tobias Ellwood (Dominic Lipinski/ PA) (PA Archive)
Conservative MP and chair of the defence select committee Tobias Ellwood (Dominic Lipinski/ PA) (PA Archive)

Heaton-Harris: Rwanda bill will pass Commons

Thursday 7 December 2023 09:18 , Matt Mathers

Rishi Sunak’s draft law to fix the Rwanda plan will pass a vote in the Commons next week, a cabinet minister has insisted.

Chris Heaton-Harris, the Northern Ireland secretary and a former Tory whip, said the government has enough support to get the bill through the lower chamber.

It comes as the prime minister attempts to shore up his position and secure support for the plan after Robert Jenrick quit amid fears of a wider rebellion and Tory rightwingers.

The bill is due before parliament today and will be voted on next week and Tory moderates have warned they will not vote for it if there is any chance that it breaks international law.

More comments from Mr Heaton-Harris below:

Robert Jenrick’s resignation is ‘not that big a story’, Tory minister claims

Thursday 7 December 2023 09:00 , Matt Mathers

A Tory minister has sought to downplay Robert Jenrick’s resignation, claiming it is “not as big a story as is being made”, Archie Mitchell reports.

Chris Heaton-Harris told LBC: “I don’t like anybody resigning from my party, but when I was Boris Johnson’s chief whip... Pretty much everyone did.

“Maybe I have a scale of proportion that others don’t have.” He added: “I don’t think it is as big a story as is being made”.

Listen to more of his interview here:

Braverman denies ‘spreading poison’ to oust Sunak as she’s challenged over attack on Rwanda plan

Thursday 7 December 2023 08:57 , Matt Mathers

As we’ve been reporting, Suella Braverman has been speaking to Radio 4 this morning about the Rwanda draft law.

In a bruising interview with Nick Robinson, the former home secretary denied that she was trying to oust Rishi Sunak by “spreading poison” in the Tory Party.

Full story and audio of the exchange below:

‘I’m just being honest’: Suella Braverman denies ‘spreading poison’ to oust Sunak

Downing Street insists bill will prevent future legal challenges

Thursday 7 December 2023 08:50 , Matt Mathers

Emergency legislation to deem Rwanda a safe destination has been published, as the Government bids to revive the flagship asylum policy following last month’s Supreme Court defeat.

The Bill is set to be rushed through the Commons and comes after Home Secretary James Cleverly signed a new treaty in Kigali amid efforts to remedy the concerns of the UK’s highest court.

Dominic McGrath reports:

Emergency Rwanda legislation published after new treaty signed in Kigali

ICYMI: Robert Jenrick’s resignation letter in full

Thursday 7 December 2023 08:48 , Matt Mathers

In a scathing letter last night, Mr Jenrick described the government’s new Rwanda bill as a “triumph of hope over experience” as he quit as immigration minister.

He said he was refusing to be “yet another politician who makes promises on immigration to the British public but does not keep them.”

Read the resignation letter in full below:

Robert Jenrick’s resignation letter as immigration minister quits over Rwanda plan

Recap: What was in the bill?

Thursday 7 December 2023 08:44 , Matt Mathers

Rishi Sunak made a desperate bid to head off a growing revolt among right-wing Conservatives over his failed Rwanda flights plan with new emergency legislation that defies human rights law.

Home secretary James Cleverly unveiled a bill in the Commons to “disapply” the UK Human Rights Act in a bid to stop British judges blocking the deportation of asylum seekers.

In fresh turmoil, the Rwandan government immediately responded to the move by warning that it could pull out of the deal if the UK fails to comply with international law.

Sunak tries to stop Tory revolt with new Rwanda bill, as Braverman hits out at plans

Braverman: ‘Sorry truth’ is that new legislation ‘won’t work'

Thursday 7 December 2023 08:28 , Matt Mathers

Suella Braverman, the former home secretary, has been speaking to broadcasters this morning after telling Rishi Sunak he faces “electoral oblivion” as she claimed his Rwanda plan was doomed to fail.

In an interview with the BBC Radio 4 Today programme, Ms Braverman said the “sorry truth” is that new legislation to revive the strategy to stop small boats “won’t work”.

“There are elements that should be welcomed in this new bill that the prime minister has presented,” she said.

“But taken as a whole and looking at the reality of the challenges that are involved in detaining people, removing people and getting them to Rwanda – this is a very litigious field and there are lots of legal frameworks that apply – the reality is and the sorry truth is that it won’t work and it will not stop the boats.”

Suella Braverman was sacked as home secretary last month (Justin Tallis/PA) (PA Wire)
Suella Braverman was sacked as home secretary last month (Justin Tallis/PA) (PA Wire)

Thursday 7 December 2023 08:22 , Matt Mathers

Good morning and welcome to The Independent’s live politics coverage as Rishi Sunak comes under fresh pressure over his Rwanda plan.

Robert Jenrick, the immigration minister, quit last night in protest at a bill produced by No 10 which the prime minister said would get flights taking off the African country.

But Jenrick described the proposals as a “triumph of hope over experience”. Stay tuned for all the latest updates on this story and otherwise from Westminster and elsewhere.