Skip to content
Home ยป Gove Defends Rwanda Plan As PM Dealt Blow From Tory Right

Gove Defends Rwanda Plan As PM Dealt Blow From Tory Right

  • by

The government is “not contemplating” an early general election because ministers are “confident” the Rwanda bill will be approved by MPs, Michael Gove has told Sky News.

Speaking to the Sunday Morning with Trevor Phillips programme, the cabinet minister said the emergency legislation was “a tough but also proportionate measure”.

The levelling up secretary indicated the government was open to making changes to the controversial draft law which faces a crucial first vote in the Commons on Tuesday, amid Conservative infighting.

Politics news – latest

Rishi Sunak brought forward the revamped plan in a bid to salvage his embattled Rwanda policy and deliver on his pledge to “stop the boats” after the Supreme Court ruled the policy unlawful.

Asked if there will be an early election if the bill does not pass the Commons, Mr Gove said: “No we’re not contemplating that because I’m confident that when people look at the legislation – and have a chance to reflect – that they will recognise that this is a tough but also proportionate measure.

“And of course, we will listen to opinion within the House of Commons.”

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player


Sunak: ‘My patience has worn thin, right?’ Gove hits back at legal criticisms of proposed law from Tory right

It came as Mr Sunak was dealt a fresh blow by members of his own party, who have concluded his Rwanda bill is not fit for purpose.

Lawyers on the Tory right have said that the legislation is not “sufficiently watertight” – meaning illegal migrants could begin prolonged legal challenges in an attempt to stay in the UK.

The European Research Group believes the law’s current wording will fail to achieve the aim of deporting those who make the Channel crossing to east Africa.

Conservative veteran Sir Bill Cash, who chaired the so-called “star chamber” behind the report, told The Sunday Telegraph he hopes it will help the government decide whether the bill needs further amendments.

More moderate Tories are weighing up whether they can support the plans amid concerns about compelling courts to find Rwanda is a “safe” country to send asylum seekers.

Mr Gove said: “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, and more than that, you can look, you can read down the bill, compare it to the Supreme Court judgment, and you can see that this bill will ensure that all of the reasons that were used in the past to prevent people going to Rwanda are dealt with.”

Read more:

Cleverly’s popularity has plunged – but what do voters think?

What is the revamped Rwanda plan?

Top civil servant summoned by MPs over costs

‘The toughest immigration legislation I’ve ever seen’

Conservative former cabinet minister David Davis told Phillips he would be backing the bill.

He said: “The legislation is about the toughest immigration legislation I’ve ever seen in truth, and I actually think the prime minister is right that it can’t go any further.

“He has to take a grip of this.

“I actually think this is a really hard piece of law… it’s literally written on the decision of the Supreme Court.”

He also had a dig at sacked home secretary Suella Braverman, who has been scathing of the approach being taken by Mr Sunak and the Home Office.

Mr Davis said: “It’s a tough job… but it’s all very well for her to come along and blame everybody else now.

“She’s been in charge of this department for well over a year, and it didn’t improve.”

Warning colleagues against manoeuvring over a potential future leadership bid, he pointed out “people who trade off their own future against the future of the party always lose”.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player


Can the new Rwanda policy work? Labour keen on ‘different plan that works’

Also appearing on Phillips’ show, Labour frontbencher Liz Kendall said: “We want to use the money spent on Rwanda to have a different plan that actually works.

“The problem is we have seen the government spend months and months on a plan going around in circles.”

However, despite the Tory divisions she predicted the bill would clear its first parliamentary hurdle “comfortably”.

Last night, Mr Sunak attacked Labour’s illegal migration policy – as Sir Keir Starmer in turn accused the Conservatives of “fighting like rats in a sack”.

The prime minister has called on Labour to “rise above political games” and back his emergency legislation, even though Mr Sunak is currently battling to keep his own MPs on side.

It comes after Robert Jenrick resigned as immigration minister on Wednesday – claiming the Rwanda bill would spark a “merry-go-round” of legal challenges because it was too weak.