James Cleverly is set to fly to Rwanda after MPs warn: Get deal done or it’s curtains for the Prime Minister
- The Home Secretary hopes to get an agreement over the line within days
James Cleverly is expected to fly to Rwanda this week to sign a new treaty in an effort to revive Rishi Sunak’s plan to deal with illegal immigration.
The Home Secretary hopes to get an agreement over the line within days, Government sources said last night. His department is also drawing up ’emergency legislation’ to help deliver on the Prime Minister’s hopes of getting flights to Rwanda under way by spring.
But Mr Cleverly faces mounting scepticism within his own Government that the scheme will ever see the light of day.
One Minister told The Mail on Sunday: ‘We’re not going to get a single migrant on a plane to Kigali before the Election.
‘Rishi and James Cleverly are going through the motions. But everyone knows it’s not going to happen.’
The Home Secretary hopes to get an agreement over the line within days, Government sources said last night
Cleverly is expected to fly to Rwanda this week to sign a new treaty in an effort to revive Rishi Sunak’s plan
Furious Conservative MPs told Mr Cleverly in a private meeting last week that it would be ‘curtains’ for him and the Prime Minister if the Rwanda policy does not work. One of them, Philip Hollobone, said he was ‘ashamed to be a Conservative under Rishi Sunak’ because of the PM’s migration policies, a source in the room said.
Last month official data revealed that the number of legal migrants in 2023 was 670,000 – only a slight fall from 745,000 in 2022.
READ MORE: Rishi Sunak says his ‘patience is worn thin’ with legal blocks to Rwanda migrant plan as PM meets with African country’s leader Paul Kagame on sidelines of COP-28 climate summit
Rishi Sunak met with Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame at the COP-28 climate summit in Dubai
The explosive meeting, held in Mr Cleverly’s office, and with Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick present, saw MPs warn that, at the present rate of progress, the promised emergency legislation will not come before Parliament until the New Year and is unlikely to be passed until March.
‘He was told this was existential for the Conservative Party and the Government,’ another Tory at the ‘brutal’ meeting said.
MPs are concerned, too, that the legislation will be watered down from the plans proposed by Suella Braverman while she was in the Government – and backed by Mr Jenrick – that human-rights laws would be disapplied to illegal migration.
Mr Jenrick’s tough stance has led MPs on the Tory Right to say he has ‘earned their respect’. However, he is expected to face opposition from Justice Secretary Alex Chalk and Attorney General Victoria Prentis.
This comes after the Supreme Court ruled the Government’s Rwanda scheme ‘unlawful’ two days after Mr Cleverly replaced Mrs Braverman as Home Secretary.
The new treaty is intended to answer the Court’s criticisms, and sources close to Mr Cleverly said he had been working with the contacts he made as Foreign Secretary, including holding Zoom calls with the Rwandan government.
A Government source said: ‘We are hopeful the treaty will be ready next week, but nothing is guaranteed.’
Meanwhile, allies of Mrs Braverman are increasingly talking up the prospect of a leadership challenge in the New Year if Mr Sunak’s polling does not improve.
Rumours are swirling in Westminster of as many of 30 letters of no confidence in the PM having already been sent to Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers. A total of 53 would be enough to trigger a confidence vote.
However, only Sir Graham knows how many letters are actually in, and estimates can be notoriously unreliable.
A source close to Mr Cleverly said: ‘We will push as hard as we can possibly push to get Rwanda over the line.
‘But we will continue to do other things to stop the boats. Rwanda is part of a packet of tools.’
The source added that the Home Secretary was focused on delivering on Mr Sunak’s pledge to stop the boats, and ‘is not going to be distracted’ by ‘annoyed’ Tory MPs.
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