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by Staff reporter
18 January 2024
Rishi Sunak sees off Tory rebellion over Rwanda bill

The prime minister has made tackling 'small boats' one of his top priorities | Alamy

Rishi Sunak sees off Tory rebellion over Rwanda bill

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has survived a Tory rebellion after the Commons passed legislation to make it easier to send asylum seekers to Rwanda.

The bill, which is designed to prevent legal challenges to the plan, was passed by 320 votes to 276.

It had been thought that dozens of Conservatives MP could vote against the bill but only 11 did in the end.

Sunak’s plan to deport asylum seekers to the African country is part of his strategy for dealing with the problem of so-called ‘small boats’ in the Channel.

MPs on the right of the Conservative Party had sought to change the bill, arguing that without amendments, the Rwanda plan could be blocked by the courts.

Former immigration minister Robert Jenrick yesterday tabled an amendment which would have permitted the UK government to ignore parts of human rights law in relation to sending people to Rwanda. The amendment was not passed but received the support of 61 Conservative MPs.

Speaking to the BBC, one Tory rebel said: “It is not the case that tonight's vote is the end of matters. If the House of Lords chooses - as I suspect they will - to send back amendments that weaken the bill, the response of those [right-wing Conservative MPs] will be to table amendments in lieu that toughen the bill.”

“The prime minister is by no means out of the woods.”

During PMQs earlier in the day, SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn accused the PM of trying to “weaponise some of the most vulnerable people in society”.

He added: “It is straight out of the cruel and callous, right-wing extremist playbook.”

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