Centrist Tory MPs have decided to support the Government’s Rwanda Bill at a crunch vote tomorrow.
The One Nation group warned the Government must “stick to its guns” and not break international law over the immigration policy which has its second reading in the Commons on Tuesday.
Damian Green MP, chair of the One Nation Caucus, said: “We have taken the decision that the most important thing at this stage is to support the Bill despite our real concerns.
“We strongly urge the Government to stand firm against any attempt to amend the Bill in a way that would make it unacceptable to those who believe that support for the rule of law is a basic Conservative principle.”
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After a meeting this evening, the MPs in the group remain concerned about any future amendments that would mean the UK Government breaching the rule of law and its international obligations.
A statement said it would oppose such amendments in the Commons.
Matt Warman MP, leading member of the One Nation Caucus, said: “The Bill as it stands represents a delicate balance between what is legally possible and what will make a real difference to this vital issue.
“It is in the national interest for the Conservative Party to resolve this matter quickly and amicably, and for the Government to resist proposals that would derail other parts of the package of measures necessary to tackle illegal migration.”
Representatives from five groups on the Tory right considered the verdict of a “star chamber” of lawyers which decided the legislation needed significant changes.
The Conservative backbench European Research Group chairman Mark Francois called on Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to “pull” the legislation after lawyers convened by the caucus deemed it an “incomplete” solution to problems posed by small boat asylum claims.
The Bill, which Mr Sunak hopes will revive the stalled scheme to deport people crossing the English Channel to Kigali, would need “very significant amendments” to work, the so-called “star chamber” of legal advisers concluded.
Speaking after a summit of representatives from the “five families” – the ERG, the Conservative Growth Group, the Northern Research Group, the New Conservatives and the Common Sense Group – Mr Francois said: “It might be better to start again with a fresh Bill that is written on a different basis.”
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But a meeting of 40 right-wing MPs tonight agreed to vote against or abstain in tomorrow’s Rwanda bill vote unless Mr Sunak offers concessions.
They claim they have the numbers to defeat the government.
The Prime Minister has tried to find a middle ground in response to the Supreme Court ruling that his plan to send asylum seekers who arrive in the UK on small boats is unlawful.
His Bill allows ministers to disapply the Human Rights Act but does not go as far as overriding the European Convention on Human Rights.
The Government’s current assessment is that only one in 200 cases will successfully avoid being sent to Rwanda once the Bill becomes law.
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