British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s controversial plan to send migrants to Rwanda suffered a blow last week following a rebellion by members of his Tory party, the Associated Press reported.
The PM made the Rwanda plan central to his effort to win this year’s election. But to accomplish it, Sunak must unite the Tories, who are already trailing far behind Labour in public polling.
However, liberal and right-leaning Tories are at odds over the Rwanda plan, with the more moderate members saying it is too extreme while the right-wing say the plan would not do enough to deter migrants from coming to the UK.
Two of the Tory deputy chairmen joined the members calling for a strengthening of the Safety of Rwanda Bill in the House of Commons. Brendan Clarke-Smith and Lee Anderson both announced that they were quitting their positions to back two amendments aimed at shutting down the avenues of appeal for migrants to fight deportation to Rwanda.
While neither amendment passed, about 60 Tories joined Anderson and Clark-Smith in the rebellion.
The House of Commons approved the bill without the amendments on Friday, January 17.
However, another complication to Sunak’s plan came on January 22 when the House of Lords voted to delay a treaty that would have paved the way for the Rwanda deportation plan.
While the move was largely symbolic, the vote signaled that more opposition awaited for the controversial plan.
The House of Lords backed a motion saying that Parliament should not ratify the treaty until the Sunak government could show that Rwanda is a safe place for the migrants to go.
John Kerr, a former diplomat and member of the House of Lords, said Sunak’s plan was “incompatible” with international human rights law.
The House of Lords will begin debate on the Safety of Rwanda Bill next week.
While the upper house, whose members are appointed rather than elected, can amend or delay legislation, it cannot overrule legislation passed by the elected House of Commons.