Former British Home Secretary Suella Braverman on Thursday urged Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to “change course” on immigration, as his Conservative party was torn over a bill to send illegal migrants to Rwanda.
Mr Sunak is due to speak late this morning, following the resignation of Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick on Wednesday evening. Mr Jenrick explained in his resignation letter that the new version of the bill, which is due to be put to a vote by MPs next week, did not go “far enough”, adding to the pressure on the head of government just as the bill was being presented to parliament.
Suella Braverman and her allies on the right wing of the Tories, who take a hard line to prevent migrant boats arriving across the Channel, urged Rishi Sunak to “amend this bill”, which they said was doomed to failure.
“I very much hope that the Prime Minister will change course and take on board the comments” of these elected representatives, who consider the current bill to be insufficiently severe and difficult to apply, said the former minister in an interview with the BBC.
“This project will not work and will not stop the boats”, because certain clauses will allow migrants to make “a whole series of individual claims” before the courts to challenge their expulsion to Rwanda, she assured.
Suella Braverman, who was sacked by Rihi Sunak in November, wants London to withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights and other international conventions on human rights.
The new text should make it possible not to apply certain sections of the British Human Rights Act to deportations, but it does not go so far as to sign up to London’s withdrawal from the European Convention on Human Rights.
“We must keep this key promise (to stop the boats), that’s how we’ll win the next general election” scheduled for the end of 2024, she insisted.If Rishi Sunak succeeds, “he will be able to lead us (to victory)”.
Initially championed by former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, this controversial project to send illegal migrants to Rwanda has been blocked for months by the courts, and the Conservative government is trying to save it by any means possible, following a final setback from the British Supreme Court last month.
The Court blocked the project out of concern for the safety of migrants being deported to the African country.
In his response to Mr Jenrick on Wednesday evening, Mr Sunak said that if the UK “completely bypassed the courts, the whole system would collapse”, with the risk of Rwanda pulling out of the project.
Some 29,700 people arrived in the UK on small boats this year, compared with 45,700 in 2022.