Britain's ruling Conservative party was in disarray on Wednesday after the immigration minister resigned over legislation on sending migrants to Rwanda, with hardliners blaming Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.
The British leader's position appeared increasingly vulnerable after Robert Jenrick said he had resigned over “strong disagreements with the direction” of the government's immigration policy.
The resignations came after Rwanda warned it would withdraw from a treaty to accept migrants if Britain did not respect international law.
Former hardline home secretary Suella Braverman also gave Sunak an ultimatum to crack down on immigration or face defeat at the next general election, in a torrid day for the British prime minister.
Jenrick resigned after the Sunak government published emergency legislation aimed at ensuring Rwanda is considered a safe country, after British Supreme Court judges ruled last month that it was not.
In his resignation letter to the Prime Minister, Jenrick wrote that the proposed laws were “a triumph of hope over experience”.
“The stakes are too high for the country not to pursue the stronger protections needed to end the merry-go-round of legal challenges that risk paralyzing the plan and negating the intended deterrent,” he wrote.
That was seen as a reference to Sunak's refusal to take Britain out of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).
The bill proposes to give ministers the power to ignore parts of the UK Human Rights Act and the ECHR when considering deportation cases.
In his response, Sunak said Jenrick's dismissal was “disappointing” and “based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the situation”.
But some right-wing Tories, including Braverman, want Sunak to leave the ECHR altogether.
Braverman, who was sacked last month after a series of outspoken comments, previously told parliament that the government must go further to tackle “mass, uncontrolled, illegal immigration”.
One of her demands was to block “all routes” of legal challenge to deportations so that deportation flights to Rwanda can take place before the elections expected next year.
She has become the cheerleader of the vocal right-wing Tory party and is thought to be positioning herself as a future leader if Sunak is forced to resign after the national election.
The Tories are well behind the main opposition Labor party in opinion polls, ahead of the elections due in January 2025.
Braverman, a former attorney general, has previously called for tougher measures and criticized the U.N. refugee treaty and European human rights law for blocking the government's plans.
Her latest comments are red meat for fellow firefighters who see total control of Britain's borders as the final piece in the Brexit puzzle.
“The Conservative party risks being forgotten within months if it introduces yet another bill that is doomed to failure,” she told MPs.
The Tories face a stark choice: “fight for sovereignty or let our party die,” she said, adding ominously: “I refuse to stand by and let us fail.”
In Kigali, Foreign Minister Vincent Biruta, who signed a new bilateral treaty on migrants with Braverman's successor James Cleverly on Tuesday, said any violation of global conventions could lead to Rwanda withdrawing from the deal.
'Stop the boats'
“Without lawful behavior from Britain, Rwanda would not be able to continue with the Migration and Economic Development Partnership,” he added, referring to the controversial deal.
Smartly insisted in parliament that Britain and Rwanda are “both fully committed” to the partnership, adding that London's proposed law “puts Rwanda's security beyond legal doubt”.
The first deportees were due to be sent to Rwanda in June last year, but were taken off the plane at the last minute after a judge at the European Court of Human Rights issued an order.
Since then, their cases – and the wider legality of the policy – have ended up in the courts, hampering Sunak's promise to “stop the boats”.
Nearly 30,000 illegal migrants have crossed the Channel from northern France this year in rudimentary ships.
Labor home secretary Yvette Cooper said the British government was in “total chaos”.
“These are the desperate dying days of a party that is tearing itself apart, clearly completely out of ideas and having lost any sense of leadership or direction,” she told parliament.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)