Conservative right bids to close Rwanda bill ‘loopholes’ as commons showdown looms

Rishi Sunak faces a House of Commons showdown over the Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill when it receives line-by-line scrutiny in its committee stage next week. 

In the commons yesterday, House leader Penny Mordaunt confirmed the Rwanda Bill will be scrutinised by a committee of the whole House on 16 and 17 January.

The prime minister is under pressure from both sides of his party over the legislation, with around 30 MPs prepared to back amendments aimed at toughening it up. 

However, moderate Conservative MPs, hailing from the One Nation Group, have threatened to oppose the bill if it risks breaching international law.

The Telegraph reports that at least nine former cabinet ministers including former home secretary Suella Braverman and immigration minister Robert Jenrick are backing four amendments to the bill.

The amendments, supported by the so-called “five families” of Conservative backbench groupings, aim to limit virtually all legal challenges by asylum seekers and block attempts by the European Court of Human Rights to halt the flights.

Writing in the Telegraph, co-chairs of the New Conservatives Danny Kruger and Miriam Cates argued the proposed amendments were “proportionate, consistent with our international obligations, and have respectable legal arguments behind them”.

“As with the rest of the bill, and the Rwanda plan in general, they are tough – because they need to be.”

Writing on their criticism of the bill as it stands, Kruger and Cates argue that Clause 4 “allows a migrant’s lawyer to claim that for them in particular – perhaps for reasons of their mental health, the claims that stopped the flights in 2022 – Rwanda would not be safe”.

They add: “We need to close this loophole by specifying that the only reason to stop a removal is because a documented health condition confirms the individual is not fit to fly”.

“The second loophole is that, under Sections 4 and 10 of the Human Rights Act, the Bill allows a court to issue a “declaration of incompatibility” with the ECHR”.

The prime minister has previously said he will welcome “bright ideas” on how to improve the bill.

Former immigration minister Robert Jenrick, said to be spearheading the amendments, has said: “The Bill as drafted simply will not work because it doesn’t end the merry-go-round of legal challenges that frustrate removals. I’ve seen the legal advice and operational plans where this was painfully apparent.

“That’s why myself and colleagues have tabled a set of amendments that block small boat arrivals making individual claims and prevent Rule 39 pyjama injunctions from Strasbourg grounding planes.

“If the Government truly wants to stop the boats, it should adopt these amendments and use Parliament’s power to deliver on the repeated promises we have made to the public.

“If we don’t fix this Bill the country will be consigned to more illegal crossings, more farcical migrant hotels and billions more of wasted taxpayers’ money in the years to come.”

Rishi Sunak’s room for manoeuvre is constrained by warnings from the One Nation group of 106 MPs.

Mordaunt confirms Rwanda bill will face vote next week as committee stage date set

Damian Green, chairman of the One Nation group, told the New Statesman in a recent interview: “The Prime Minister’s got within an inch of what I would regard as acceptable. Almost all our members voted for second reading with the clear message of ‘thus far and no further’ and ‘don’t take that extra inch’, which some colleagues of the Right of the party want us to do.”

The One Nation group also held a drinks event with journalists on Tuesday night, where member Matt Warman joked at the “five families’” expense. 

He said that Sir John Hayes’ Common Sense Group is “like a democratic republic pretending it actually is a democratic republic” and that Kruger and Cates’ New Conservatives are “new” because other Conservatives have in fact “won more than one election.” is the UK’s leading digital-only political website, providing comprehensive coverage of UK politics. Subscribe to our daily newsletter here.