MPs have adopted the British Prime Minister’s controversial bill which aims to deport illegal immigrants to Rwanda.
The Prime Minister felt the wind. Rishi Sunak avoided seeing his “Rwandan plan” rejected in the House of Commons, but the alert was high. His emergency law aimed at fighting illegal immigration has for the moment been saved but the authority of the conservative boss has been further shaken.
The passing of the law aimed at allowing asylum seekers who arrived illegally on British soil to be expelled to Rwanda was perilous. And constituted the most serious parliamentary test for Sunak since the start of his mandate a year ago. He was attacked on his right as well as his left. The right wing of the Tories found the text too soft while the party’s centrists and the opposition considered it too radical and risked contravening international commitments on human rights. Finally, after seven hours of debate, the text was adopted at first reading, by 313 votes to 269.
But this favorable vote is only a respite for Sunak. The rebels, who abstained today, did so to table amendments in January. And if these are not taken into account, they reserve “the right to vote against the law at that time”, as Mark François warned, speaking on behalf of hard Brexiters from the influential European researsh group (ERG). In order to convince the skeptics of the Tory party, those responsible for discipline spent their weekend on the phone. And Rishi Sunak invited a number of elected officials to a breakfast at Downing Street on Tuesday morning.
Meeting the objectives of the Supreme Court
His law intends to respond to the objections of the British Supreme Court on the very controversial project. A month ago, she struck a blow, ruling that Rwanda could not be considered a safe third country and that the project violated British and international laws. In response, Rishi Sunak concluded a new treaty with Rwanda and drafted this new law. The text should make it possible to “unambiguously exclude the possibility for the courts” to contest the fact that Rwanda is a “safe country” and not to apply certain provisions of the British law on human rights to expulsions. Ministers will also be able to decide whether or not to “comply with the measures of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR)”.
Presented again this Tuesday by the Minister for Immigration, Michael Tomlinson, as “one of the toughest texts ever presented” to Parliament against illegal immigration, the law did not convince his predecessor. Robert Jenrick resigned the day the bill was presented last week, saying the text did not go “far enough”. The former minister and those close to him on the right wing of the party believe that the plan “will not work”. They would like to deny asylum seekers any legal means of appealing a deportation. To reassure them, the government assured that less than 1% of asylum seekers could succeed in an appeal blocking their deportation. But the right of the party is demanding a pure and simple withdrawal from the ECHR and more broadly wants to free itself from international conventions.
The battle over the law is therefore not over. After a fight over the amendments, the government could face some opposition in the House of Lords. In power for thirteen years and trailing Labor by 20 points in the polls one year before the elections, the Conservatives are showing their divisions more than ever in broad daylight.
This article is originally published on lefigaro.fr