Suella Braverman

Suella Braverman ‘in listening mode’ on small boats bill as commons battle looms

Suella Braverman is said to be in “listening mode” on a series of amendments to the government’s flagship illegal migration bill which is due for committee stage in the commons later today. 

The right of the Conservative party, led by Danny Kruger and Jonathan Gullis, has claimed it has as many as 60 MPs ready to vote on amendments to the bill. These MPs want the proposed law to become more hard-line when it comes to intervention from the courts. 

Then there are also those, backed by Labour, who want the government to give stronger commitments to opening up safe routes for people to claim asylum in the UK.

The illegal migration bill is designed to help fulfil prime minister Rishi Sunak’s pledge to “stop the boats”. It aims to limit the arrival of migrants travelling on small boats to seek refuge in the UK.

Speaking to Sky News this morning, home office minister Chris Philp said: “I think this bill is very important and the public expect these small boats to be stopped. One of the prime minister’s five priorities is to stop the boats and this bill is designed to deliver that. I don’t think anyone could doubt the prime minister’s commitment or the home secretary’s commitment”.

On the amendments from Conservative backbenchers, Mr Philp detailed: “[The home secretary] is discussing these various amendments with members of parliament. I’m sure she’s, you know, in listening mode, as always, but this bill is a well-designed, well-constructed bill designed to stop the boats”.

Almost 30 Conservative MPs put their names on an amendment that would stop the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) from preventing removals to Rwanda from taking place.

The rebels’ amendment would stop British judges using legal precedent from Strasbourg when considering deportation cases — a move which halted Rwanda flights last year.

The ECHR blocked the government’s attempt to send people to Rwanda last year.

When she introduced the bill to the Commons, the home secretary outlined that the legislation may be incompatible with the ECHR.

In a letter to MPs following the publication of the bill earlier this month, the home secretary conceded there is a “more [than a] 50% chance” the legislation may not be compatible with the convention.

However, it is now thought that the rebels have dropped the amendment and agreed not to force a division on the issue. The MPs are understood to be continuing to liaise with ministers and officials to change the legislation.

On the other side, Conservative MP Tim Loughton has proposed an amendment that would force the home secretary to declare “safe and legal routes by which asylum seekers can enter” the UK.

It has been signed by former Brexit secretary David Davis as well as Labour MP Dame Diana Johnson, who chairs the home affairs select committee.

Others expected to back the amendment include equalities committee chair Caroline Nokes who stated her “absolute horror” at the bill, as well as former justice secretary Robert Buckland who said the government “shouldn’t be locking children up”.

Organisations including the Refugee Council and Amnesty International say there are no safe and legal routes for most people to seek asylum in the UK.

Labour has also proposed an amendment that would force the government to offer a framework for a new asylum returns deal with EU states within three months of the bill passing.