Sunak defends new Rwanda plan
The European Research Group of Tory MPs appear braced to oppose Rishi Sunak’s new flagship Rwanda legislation on the grounds it is not “watertight” enough.
Reports this morning suggest the group of legal experts tasked with combing the Bill to see whether it will work are set to reject the legislation, which the Government promises will work.
Sir Bill Cash’s ‘star chamber’ lawyers have decided that the legislation, especially Clause 4 which deals with migrant appeals, is not “watertight” enough to avoid lengthy legal battles.
The judgement, which will be released in full ahead of Tuesday’s crunch vote, is a major blow to Rishi Sunak, who now risks a significant rebellion by Tory MPs.
Responding to the reports this morning, Michael Gove said he is “looking forward” to hearing the Star Chamber’s opinion, but argued eminent judges have already come out to back the Government’s new plan.
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Asked whether ERG MPs will back the Government, Mr Gove said “We will see”.
“I know Sir Bill was consulted during the course of the preparation of the Bill, and the content of the Bill represents many of the wise things that he said about the importance of, for example, having a not withstanding clause in order to assert Parliament’s sovereignty.
“We will see what Sir Bill and the Star Chamber say, we take seriously the views of colleagues, particularly eminent colleagues like Sir Bill who have deep and profound legal experience, but we believe this Bill is tough and robust.”
He cited the former Supreme Court Justice Lord Sumption, who has been “very clear that this is tough legislation – probably the toughest anti-immigration legislation ever introduced”.
The Bill cuts off a large number of appeal options previously used by migrants and left-wing lawyers to prevent them being deported.
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Writing in the Telegraph this morning, ERG Chairman Sir Bill Cash says the group’s top lawyers say the legislation “at present” is not “sufficiently watertight to meet the Government’s policy objectives”.
Speaking to the Express last week, a right wing Tory source said MPs would be heavily lobbying for amendments to the Bill during its journey through Parliament.
Sir Bill insists Parliament “can Legislate to override the provisions of international treaties provided it does so in such clear and unambiguous terms that its intention cannot be misunderstood”.
He also warns that “in such circumstances, the courts will follow the explicit legislation to the letter.”.
However Rishi Sunak has warned that Rwanda will not go along with any plan that would involve breaching the European Convention of Human Rights.
Speaking at a press conference this week, the Prime Minister said the difference between his new flagship migrant policy and what the ERG want is just “an inch”, but that inch “is the difference between the Rwandans participating in this scheme and not”.
He said: “There’s no point having a piece of legislation that means you can’t actually send anyone anywhere – that’s not going to help anyone.”
MPs will have their first vote on the Bill this Tuesday.
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